Our small group, in a private van, first visited Seiji Morimae’s S-Cube Bonsai Garden Uchiku-tei in Hanyu, Japan. As always, Mr. Morimae was extremely busy with his large sales area in the Ueno Green Club and preparing for the Nippon Suiseki Exhibition. He showed me over 50 beautiful tables selected for display with the stones, including one of my prize suiseki for the exhibit.
His wife and staff warmly welcomed us and let us look around and photograph anywhere. Later on, as we were leaving Mr. Morimae showed me a special group of nearly 100 ancient Ezo Spruce bonsai collected by Saburo Kato’s father, Tomekichi Kato about 80 years ago. He will carefully select many of these historic bonsai masterpieces for his Bonsai Museum being built in Kyoto. I have seen so many collected Ezo Spruce at one time. It was special treat for me.
Masahiko Kimura Garden
Next, we stopped at Mr. Kimura’s garden where his apprentices were busy preparing display tables for the 21 bonsai he will be displaying for his clients in Part 2 of the Kokufu Bonsai Exhibition. Also, there was a long row of display tables all cleaned for another exhibit he is having at the Tokyo Dome Orchid show.
Andrei Bessonov, one of Mr. Kimura’s six year apprentices was showing us around. He has often been featured in the demonstrations Mr. Kimura does for his bonsai Fun Bonsai Classroom series in International BONSAI. Andrei is from Russia and has survived his six-year apprenticeship which ends in June. He will be returning to Russia to begin his career as a professional bonsai artist. I took a photo of him now, before he becomes famous. By the way, the large Zuisho Japanese five-needle bonsai he is standing next to is special. It is an early bonsai propagated from a rooted cutting over 40 years ago, completely container grown. I immediately recognized this unique bonsai because I had to water and care of it and also helped wire it in 1971 when I was an apprentice in Omiya Bonsai Village. There are a few early photos of that bonsai in my first and second books Encyclopedia of Classical Bonsai Art.
Mansei-en Bonsai Garden of Takahiro Kato
After a delicious lunch we visited the Omiya Art Museum, then walked to the Mansei-en Bonsai Garden. There were loads of bonsai, many famous and historic.
Fuyo-en Bonsai Garden of Hiroshi Takeyama
Our last stop for the day was at Mr. Takeyama’s garden which is always colorful. He had several red-pink Japanese Flowering Apricot bonsai in full fragrant blossom. He specializes in deciduous, unusual and forest style bonsai. Since he has developed many species with fine delicate twigs they are overwintered in temporary poly houses to prevent die back because the fine twigs are not that hardy.