2020 94TH Kokufu Bonsai Exhibition– Part 1

1Part 1 February 8-11, 2020

Part 2 February 13-16, 2020


The Kokufu Bonsai Exhibition is the finest and longest running formal bonsai exhibition in the word.



The All Japan Bonsai Exhibition was held in Hibiya Park, Tokyo, Japan, from 1914-1933. Bonsai pioneer Norio Kobayashi (author, Editor and Publisher of Bonsai Magazine,) and Count Yoriyaga Matsudaira (shohin bonsai enthusiast, first President of the Kokufu Bonsai Society) organized the first Kokufu Bonsai Exhibition in the Tokyo Metropolitan Art Museum in Ueno Park, Tokyo, Japan in March 1934 showing 96 bonsai. It was sponsored by the Kokufu Bonsai Society and the early exhibitions were held twice a year before suspending during the war. The private Kokufu Bonsai Society was transformed to the Nippon Bonsai Association in 1965 because of the growing popularity of bonsai. They are now the sponsors and the yearly exhibitions are held in early February. The 94th exhibition is opened yesterday.


Historical display of some early exhibition albums and posters.


This Japanese five-needle pine was displayed in the first 1934 Kokufu Bonsai Exhibition. I can’t wait to get home to check out the 1934 photo in the first exhibition album!



Here is the data from Part 1 of the exhibition:

151 Exhibit Areas

106 Large Bonsai

39 Chuhin (Medium) Compositions (78 pcs.)

7 Shohin Compositions (42 pcs.)

Total Displayed Bonsai, Approximately 226

4 Kokufu Prizes

12 Kicho (Important Bonsai Masterpieces)

7 Special Exhibits

1 Suiseki special exhibit, but two bonsai compositions included a suiseki


Kokufu Award, Sargent juniper



Kokufu Award, Japanese five-needle pine



Kokufu Award, medium size Trident maple


K2Kokufu Award, Shohin bonsai composition








Today, Sunday, was the second day of Part 1, and I personally enjoyed the light crowds. Here are a few photos of bonsai which impressed me today. Of course, when I continue my study through the week I’ll share more photos and personal thoughts.



I was very interested in this medium size Japanese beech. It looked like an air layer to me so I asked one of Mr. Takeyama’s assistants, and he confirmed it indeed was an air layer off the top of a larger tree. It is well over 20 years old.


This is a formal exhibition which interests me tremendously. The table cloths, skirting and backgrounds are quite important when presenting bonsai as a fine art. I’ve been fortunate to have attended most of the Kokufu Bonsai Exhibitions since 1972, except for a few missed shows because of health issues and a burning house and carefully study and share my findings.


The table cloth colors and skirting are sometimes change. Looking through the 43,000 images on my laptop tonight I gathered a few photos of the table cloths from recent years. This will probably not interest most readers, so please feel free to check back tomorrow for more photos of the bonsai.

2013 copy

Light blue table cloth, off white skirting, no reveal



2014 copy

Bright blue table cloth, tan skirting, no reveal


2015 copy

Navy table cloth, tan skirting about a 3″ reveal


2016 copy

Navy table cloth, tan skirting about a 3″ reveal


2017 copy

Navy table cloth, tan skirting about a 3″ reveal


2018 copy

Navy table cloth, tan skirting about a 3″ reveal


2019 copy

Navy table cloth, tan skirting about a 3″ reveal


And this year:

2020 copy

Navy runner, revealing about 3″ bright blue reveal, thin reveal of tan skirting\


A happy migrant worker!


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