2019 39th Nippon Bonsai Taikan Exhibition – Part 3

This year there are five special displays in the Nippon Bonsai Taikan Exhibition.


Funayama Display

Mr. Funayama lives in the northern area of Japan and has large powerful evergreen bonsai. Mr. Morimae is his bonsai consultant.






Tanaka Display

This was the largest display in the exhibition presented in two parts, one on each side of the formal entrance to the show. Mr. Tanaka lives in Kyoto and has a large significant collection of bonsai named “Bonsai Keiunan.” The main theme of his display is to recognize bonsai from the past five eras of Japan: Meiji (1886), Taisho (1912), Showa (1926), Heisei (1989) and Reiwa (2019.) He is now building a bonsai museum in Kyoto scheduled to open in 2022. Guiding him and caring for his collection are Seiji Morimae and Shinji Suzuki.

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A large Sargent juniper flanks the left side of part 1, with the poetic name of Hagoromo.




This is one of the most famous suiseki in Japan and has numerous owners. The name Hagoromo is the name of an old Noh play because the overall shape of the stone reminds the viewer of a dancer with an arm outstretched. While this suiseki is a figure stone, it is also a chrysanthemum stone. The kimono cloth covering the dancer is covered with small chrysanthemum flowers similar to fine quality brocade. Note the small, simple daiza presenting humility to the presentation.


The last bonsai on the right of part 1 of the display is a powerful Japanese black pine. The extremely rough bark is named “Gan Seki Sho,” or irregular rock like. This bonsai is considered to be approximately 300 years old and General Okuma once owned the masterpiece. This past February I saw Mr. Morimae sell this bonsai at the Ueno Green Club during the Kokufu Bonsai Exhibition for US $750,000.





Across the entrance was part 2 of Mr. Tanaka’s display. This Japanese five-needle pine was once owned by Daizo Iwasaki, a noted bonsai lover and bonsai promoter who worked hard for several decades to expand bonsai. He was an officer of the World Bonsai Friendship Federation and created the most famous bonsai and garden collection of Japan. The poetic name of this bonsai is “Takasago” which was also the name of his garden. Toshinori Suzuki, the father of Toru Suzuki named this bonsai. Does that make him the “God father?


Next on display in a poor-quality photograph, but significantly interesting is a series of three famous bonsai which were all past Kokufu Prize winning masterpieces. Toru Suzuki’s grandfather Saichi Suzuki, a pioneer of pine bonsai and the introducer of Zuisho Japanese five-needle pine worked on all three of these bonsai. Each one of these bonsai once grew and were displayed in this famous antique 400 year old Chinese container.


Next is a display of three bronze water basins made by Houn Harada. They represent his early, mid and late period of casting bronze. Yuji Yoshimura’s father, Toshiji Yoshimura, a leader of the bonsai and suiseki communities designed and commissioned many of these beautiful bronze water basins which are highly prized, and priced as well.


A collection of old famous Tofukuji bonsai containers considered to be one of the finest bonsai potters of old time and lived and worked in Kyoto. It is rare to see a collection like this. However, Mr. Morimae had a display of 50 Tofukuji containers in his S-Cube Bonsai Gallery sales area, but you are too late. The entire 50 piece collection was sold on the first day. More details in next blog.


Shigeru Yoshida was a Prime Minister who also loved bonsai and had a large collection. He was the first President of the Nippon Bonsai Association in the 1960’s. This magnificent chrysanthemum suiseki one belonged in his collection.


A large Japanese five-needle pine named “Dainagon” is considered to be 350 years old. The needle and bark characteristics are excellent, as well as the shape of the tree.


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Honde Display

Mr. Honde’s display featured two cascade Japanese five-needle pine bonsai and three suiseki. Note how both bonsai are pointing towards the center of the display.

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Teauchi Display

Mr. Teauchi’s display featured two Japanese flowering apricot bonsai and several suiseki. Although a beautiful display it seemed to me that the scrolls were more significant than the bonsai.




Saito Display

Akihisa Saito, a director of the Nippon Bonsai Association and his wife Harue have one of the finest and largest private bonsai collections in Japan. They have between 300 to 400 bonsai at their home in Okayama. Award winning bonsai artist Kenji Oshima, son of Mikio Oshima, from Okayama, is the curator of their collection.



Each year they have a special large special display at the Taikan Bonsai Exhibition. The theme changes yearly and features masterpiece bonsai from their collection. It also has beautiful and colorful framed contemporary Japanese paper cuts figures between the bonsai. In the past their special display each featured several masterpiece Hinoki cypress, Korean hornbeam, Japanese maple, Trident maple, Shishigashira maple, Twisted pomegranates and Rough bark Japanese maples last year.

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This time Mr. Saito is sharing the beauty of four of his Japanese maple masterpieces. The weather here in Kyoto and Okayama has been quite warm and the colorful display of Japanese maple leaves has been delayed. They should be in peak color in a couple of weeks. Note that the leaves were not burned which is common with maple leaves during this time of the year.


Mr. and Mrs. Saito were joined by three lovely ladies who often travel together and make annual appearances at the Nippon Bonsai Taikan Exhibition.