2018 92nd Kokufu Bonsai Exhibition II– Part 2 (Final)

IMG_8429

6P4A7864

Here are the last images from this year’s tour to Japan to visit the Kokufu Bonsai & Japan Suiseki Exhibitions, Omiya Bonsai Village, S-Cube, Masahiro Kimura and Kunio Kobayashi’s gardens.

6P4A7928

6P4A7877

6P4A7885

6P4A7952

6P4A7955

6P4A7979

6P4A7984

6P4A7977

6P4A7939

6P4A7989

6P4A7988

6P4A7986

Do you recognize this Japanese five-needle pine bonsai? I did. It was featured in the video Shinji Suzuki produced many years ago. He was trying to decide if he should enter it in the professional Sakufu Bonsai Exhibition. He wanted to show it, but Seiji Morimae told him it would not win and to make up his own mind. Mr. Suzuki did enter the competition with this bonsai, and of course, did not win. Today I think it would win that exhibition.

IMG_8271 2

6P4A7974

 

IMG_8285

6P4A7975

 

6P4A7968

6P4A7967

 

6P4A7965

6P4A7963

 

6P4A7973

6P4A7972

 

IMG_8276

6P4A7978

I was surprised to see so much needle variation on the Ezo spruce bonsai. The Ezo spruce, Picea glehnii, is commonly trained for bonsai in colder areas. Native to the Hokkaido area they love cold and snow. Many people confuse Ezo spruce, Picea glehnii, with the Black Ezo spruce (also called Sakhalin spruce or Yezo spruce) Picea jezoensis, which is NOT trained for bonsai in Japan. The needles are too long and coarse for bonsai.

There are probably two reasons for the great variation of the Ezo spruce bonsai in this exhibition. First is the natural seedling variation and the second reason has to do with the pinching techniques for new growth. The needles of course reduce in size according to the years and decades of training and containerization. The color differences may be cultural and again seedling variations.

6P4A7970

6P4A7983

6P4A7981

6P4A7951

6P4A7945

 

Bonsai and suiseki exhibitions attract people from all walks of life. I saw this lovely young lady studying the suiseki exhibit and asked to take her photo. She smiled, agreed and even posed for the photo. But I forgot to ask her why she was dressed up….

IMG_8438

2018 5th Japan Suiseki Exhibition

The 5th Japan Suiseki Exhibition took place on February 14-17, 2018, in the Tokyo Metropolitan Art Museum in Ueno Park. This is the same venue as the Kokufu Bonsai Exhibition on the second floor.IMG_8375

Nippon Suiseki Association Chairman, Kunio Kobayashi welcomes visitors during the opening ceremony.

IMG_8388

IMG_8415

IMG_8383

IMG_8427

IMG_8426

IMG_8423.jpg

IMG_8391

IMG_8421

 

IMG_8419.jpg

This year there were:

82 General Exhibits

6 Special Exhibits

32 Tokonoma Displays

1 Guest Entry

17 Foreign Displays

11 Accessory Exhibits

IMG_8378

Guest Entry by the Hosokawa School Bonseki titled “Distant View of Fuji”

 

IMG_8408

IMG_8399

IMG_8394

According to the Nippon Suiseki Association, sponsor of the exhibition:

Suiseki is a genera term referring to a stone that captures the poetic beauty of natural landscape scenery. In a single stone one can sense the whole of the universe, making suiseki among the most spiritual and culturally rich pursuits celebrating the art of nature.

IMG_8379

The history of suiseki is said to have begun in the mid-Muromachi period during the 15th century and its spiritual aspect deepened throughout its connection with Zen Buddhism and the tea ceremony. The pastime of suiseki as it has been passed down to us today became established between the end of the Edo period and the mid-Meiji period in the late 19th century. A unique literati sensibility toward natural stones and landscape beauty was born in the 18th century, which later melded with the love of nature’s artistry held by bonsai enthusiasts of the Meiji period, and ultimately became suiseki as we know it today– an ideal expression of Japanese aesthetics.

IMG_8403

IMG_8405

 

It is said that the pleasure of suiseki lies in the heart of the viewer. To allow one’s mind to idle in nature, to perceive the whole of creation and Mother Nature’s elegance, to reach the point where one can hear the profound voice of the infinite world in a single stone, suiseki lures us into the subtle realm of yugen the refined hart of the wabi and sabi aesthetics.

IMG_8406

IMG_8417

IMG_8422

IMG_8414

IMG_8395

IMG_8416

In addition to Japan, suiseki were displayed from the Philippines, Italy, Malaysia, England, Czech Republic, Spain, Denmark and the United States. Six stones displayed by Jim Greaves, Larry & Nina Ragle, Ron Maggio, Tom Elias, Paul Gilbert and Wm. N. Valavanis. I was personally honored that my suiseki that I collected in Georgia over 20 years ago was displayed in the main entrance room, third from the front. Mr. Kobayashi displayed my suiseki in an antique Chinese water basin over 200 years old.

IMG_8398

Tom Elias

IMG_8397

Ron Maggio

IMG_8407

Paul Gilbert

IMG_8404

 

IMG_8409

IMG_8380

Wm. N. Valavanis

IMG_8425

2018 92nd Kokufu Bonsai Exhibition II– Part 1

111

6P4A7819

IMG_8332

 

IMG_8350.jpg

6P4A7824

The 92nd Kokufu Bonsai Exhibition is being held in two parts again this year. The second part II runs from February 13-16, 2018 and here are a few photos of bonsai which captured my trained eye. Please remember that the bonsai are displayed in the exhibition are for live viewing, NOT for photographing. It is extremely difficult to get a good image of a tree because of different lighting and different backgrounds in each area. Plus the ceiling heights are also different and the exhibition is full of people trying to enjoy the beauty of the bonsai. Many of these photos were actually taken by my new iPhone X, not my Cannon DSLR. Then after trying to take a decent and acceptable image they must be adjusted for lighting, color balance, detail enhancement and the background seams must be removed, including their shadows on the display tables. Often the name tag, display number tag and information sheets are also removed to present an image of the displayed bonsai. Again, finer quality photos will be appearing in a future issue of International BONSAI.IMG_7530.jpg

IMG_3239

 

6P4A7909

 

Now having seen both Parts I and II it is my impression that Part II is better because of the quality of the bonsai and diversity of both species and styles. Also, having seen and studied more than 40 Kokufu Bonsai Exhibitions it is my opinion that this is the best show yet. I still have another two days to carefully look over Part II, and I’m certain to find things I missed during my first three times through the exhibition.

6P4A7921

IMG_2004

 

Although all 221 bonsai were switched from Part I, except for the Imperial Bonsai Special Display, I noticed several of the accessory plantings used again, and why not, they look great. There were several Ezo spruce bonsai in this part and I found a great diversity in the foliage. I’ll try to photograph them today to share.

 

IMG_8278

IMG_5093

2018 Part II Statistics

161 Individual Bonsai Displays

114 Large Size Bonsai

43 Medium Size Bonsai Displays (approx. 86 individual trees)

4 Shohin Bonsai Displays (24 individual trees)

 

Total Bonsai Displayed approx. 224

19 Registered Important Bonsai Masterpieces

4 Kokufu Bonsai Prizes

3 Bonsai Displayed with Suiseki

2 Bonsai Displayed by Americans

KOKU PINE.jpg

Kokufu Prize

Japanese Black Pine

 

KOKU QUINCE.jpg

Kokufu Prize

Chinese Quince

 

KOKU MAPLE.jpg

Kokufu Prize

Trident Maple

 

KOKU JUNIPER.jpg

Kokufu Prize

Needle Juniper

Congratulations go to Shinji Suzuki whose clients won three out of the four Kokufu Prize winners. He is responsible for displaying and preparing the bonsai for his clients, but not necessarily for their creation. Masterpiece bonsai of this quality take many decades to develop and are bought and sold frequently. Each time they change hands they usually improve in quality. It is not uncommon to see a famous bonsai in different gardens every year.

DWARF SCOTS PINE copy

IMG_8227

IMG_8228

When my group visited Mr. Kimura’s garden last week I asked him how many bonsai he worked on which are on display. He said 55 pieces, which is down from over 70 a few years ago. Still, that’s a staggering number to be proud of considering about 445 bonsai were displayed this year. One of his newest tall rock planting creations of Tsuyama Hinoki Cypress was displayed for the first time this year, under his client’s name of course.

IMG_8286

IMG_8259
IMG_8260.jpg

IMG_8802.jpg

Three bonsai were displayed by Americans

IMG_8274.jpg

Satsuki Azalea displayed by Mel Goldstein from Ohio. He will be displaying this masterpiece which is planted in a Gyozan container in the 6th US National Bonsai Exhibition on September 8-9, 2018, in Rochester, NY. Come see it in person.

IMG_4243

Japanase Hemlock displayed by Doug Pall from Pennsylvania.

 

IMG_8270

Dwarf Star Jasmine displayed by Adam Blank from Pennsylvania.

 

IMG_9200.jpg

 

IMG_8521.jpg

IMG_8340

IMG_8347

A beautifully carved “root stand”

 

IMG_8273

6P4A7881

Perhaps this simple and elegant sinuous styli e Japanese five-needle pine is my favorite bonsai in Part II. It is planted in an antique Chinese “Nanban” oval container. Of course there are many more impressive bonsai in the exhibition, but this tree talked to me….

IMG_4675

Guess what?

IMG_5348.jpg

Bittersweet! This vining plant is a pest in most areas of the US and is against the law to sell.

IMG_8333.jpg

6P4A7831

6P4A7875

IMG_8282

IMG_5891

6P4A7919

6P4A7870

IMG_8315

Again, the Nippon Bonsai Association has presented another exhibition of some of the finest bonsai in Japan. THE best exhibition of the finest bonsai, and the 100 finest suiseki took place at the 8th World Bonsai Convention in Saitama in April 2017.

 

2018 92nd Kokufu Bonsai Exhibition I– Part 2

SIGN

UNADJUSTEDNONRAW_thumb_32232 copy copy

6P4A7553

6P4A7516

UNADJUSTEDNONRAW_thumb_3222f

UNADJUSTEDNONRAW_thumb_32226

UNADJUSTEDNONRAW_thumb_32217

6P4A7495

6P4A7496

6P4A7721

UNADJUSTEDNONRAW_thumb_32251

6P4A7527

6P4A7254

MAPLR

UNADJUSTEDNONRAW_thumb_32235

6P4A7723

The 92nd Kokufu Bonsai Exhibition is being held in two parts again this year. Here are some more images from the first part. I saw a great number of foreigners this time, many from Italy.

MARCO

UNADJUSTEDNONRAW_thumb_32223

This year the Nippon Bonsai Association is using new white backgrounds for the main room only. They are a bit taller and shiny with a texture. The older tan colored backgrounds are being used in the smaller downstairs room and upstairs in the mezzanine level and also the shohin bonsai room. The main room has many more lights, all LED. The dark blue table cloths are a bit narrower which reveals more of the light tan skirting on top.

222

111

333

444

6P4A7748

6P4A7463

6P4A7462

6P4A7727

6P4A7718

6P4A7259

6P4A7719

UNADJUSTEDNONRAW_thumb_32247

UNADJUSTEDNONRAW_thumb_32224

UNADJUSTEDNONRAW_thumb_32199

6P4A7699

6P4A7549

UNADJUSTEDNONRAW_thumb_321ba

6P4A7693

That wraps up the report for Part I of this year’s Kokufu Bonsai Exhibition. A report for Part II in a few days.

2018 92nd Kokufu Bonsai Exhibition Part I– Part 1

6P4A7396

6P4A7540

6P4A7601

The 92nd Kokufu Bonsai Exhibition is being held in two parts again this year. Part 1 is being held on February 8-11, 2018 at the Tokyo Metropolitan Art Museum in Ueno Park. Part II will be held next week after all the bonsai are changed with new trees.

6P4A7322

6P4A7356

6P4A7257

Sargent Juniper

6P4A7418

Sekka Hinoki Cypress!

6P4A7519

Japanese Maple6P4A7563

Chojubai Japanese Dwarf Flowering Quince planted with rocks

6P4A7474

6P4A7448

Crape Myrtle!

6P4A7335

6P4A7364

6P4A7510

6P4A7511.jpg

Both visual and physical balance are important so the bonsai looks stable and does not fall over…..

6P4A7467

Sargent Juniper created by Minoru Akiyama who received the coveted Prime Minister Award a few years ago at the Sakufu Bonsai Exhibitions for professional bonsai artists. Here it is displayed under the owner’s name.

6P4A7379

It never ceases to surprise me that there are so many bonsai I’ve never seen before, and I’ve seen quite a few bonsai throughout Japan. I’ve been blessed to have seen and studied bonsai at more than 40 Kokufu Bonsai Exhibitions.

6P4A7384

2018 Part I Statistics

161 Individual Bonsai Displays

116 Large Size Bonsai

41 Medium Size Bonsai Displays (approx. 82 individual trees)

4 Shohin Bonsai Displays (23 individual trees)

Total Bonsai Displayed approx. 221

18 Registered Important Bonsai Masterpieces

5 Kokufu Bonsai Prizes

2 Bonsai Displayed with Suiseki

KOKU JUNIPER

Kokufu Bonsai Award

Sargent Juniper

KOKU MAPLE

Kokufu Bonsai Award

Trident Maple

KOKU PINE

Kokufu Bonsai Award

Japanese Black Pine

KOKU QUINCE

Kokufu Bonsai Award

Chinese Quince (better photo coming)

 

KOKU.jpg

Kokufu Bonsai Award

Shohin Bonsai Composition– Japanese black pine, Dwarf kumquat, Chojubai Japanese dwarf flowering quince, Sargent juniper, Privet and Needle juniper

These are only my initial findings, I will probably discover more during my next visits, as several are required, I’m a slow learner.

Again, the Nippon Bonsai Association has assembled and displayed a superb selection of some of the finest bonsai in the country and in world too. I look forward to Part II, but first look for more bonsai in my blog tomorrow from Part I. Remember, better photos will be in a future issue of International BONSAI. You can easily subscribe here:

http://www.internationalbonsai.com/product/IBM-652343450

A Visit To Shunka-en Bonsai Museum– February 2018

6P4A7244

6P4A7224

6P4A7218

Our group spent the morning at Kunio Kobayashi’s Shunka-en Bonsai Museum in the Edogawa Ward of Tokyo. The perfectly clear weather, but cool, gave us the opportunity to fully enjoy the quiet beauty of Mr. Kobayashi’s creative works and also of his fine taste of appreciating and sharing his sense of display. His museum has approximately 12 alcoves for formal bonsai displays and each was filled with bonsai appropriate to the season. Late winter and early spring flowering bonsai were featured including Japanese flowering apricots, Japanese flowering quince and Winter flowering cherries.

6P4A7147

6P4A7150

6P4A7145

6P4A7143

6P4A7166

6P4A7159

We were fortunate to have Taka Yamaji as our guide through the museum who explained the displays and answered questions. Taka is Hiro Yamaji’s son, who speaks perfect English is now an apprentice to Minoru Akiyama in Yamanashi Prefecture. Both Hiro Yamaji and Minoru Akiyama h past judge have been past judges at the US National Bonsai Exhibitions. Minoru Akiyama was an apprentice to Mr. Kobayashi who is also his son in law, (he married his boss’s daughter.) Mr. Akiyama was also the senior apprentice when Peter Warren studied with Mr. Kobayashi and they often now often work together. The bonsai world is small and complex with many relationships.

6P4A7160

6P4A7178

6P4A7142

6P4A7183

6P4A7210

6P4A7190

6P4A7235

6P4A7237

6P4A7227

An old Japanese black pine bonsai

6P4A7229

A close up of the Japanese black pine base. Please note that each layer of bark represents a year’s growth. There is a thin wire holding the bark from falling off.

6P4A7211

6P4A7215

6P4A7203

This small Japanese black pine bonsai was displayed at last year’s Kokufu Bonsai Exhibition.

Mr. Kobayashi has again filled his beautiful garden with large size bonsai which is what his Chinese clients prefer to purchase from him. A few years ago he added another growing area on the rooftop of his suiseki display building. I spotted another growing area next door in the parking lot where he built his apprentice dormitory. He is running out of space, but continues to create and sell his bonsai.

6P4A7242

6P4A7221

6P4A7192

 

A room was filled with carefully packed suiseki and wrapped display tables for next week’s 5th Japan Suiseki Bonsai Exhibition. I was told my suiseki to be displayed was among the pile.

6P4A7208

Everyone on our tour thoroughly enjoyed the warm hospitality of the Kobayashi family and apprentices and now have a deeper understanding of Japanese bonsai.

 

A Visit To Morimae’s S-Cube & Omiya Bonsai Village– February 2018

6P4A7073

Kora Dalager’s and my semi-annual tour to see the finest bonsai in Japan began yesterday. First visit for the day was Seiji Morimae’s S-Cube bonsai garden Uchiku-Tei in the city of Hanyu, Japan, approximately one hour north of Tokyo. This season has been quite cold in the Tokyo area (balmy compared to Rochester, NY) and even snowy too, but kind of non-existent compared to our 75 plus inches (200 cm or 2 meters) of the white stuff. The cold weather here in Japan has delayed the Japanese flowering apricot bonsai blossoms, but they are loaded with large plump buds waiting for warmer weather.

6P4A7049

6P4A7046

6P4A7041

6P4A7045

6P4A7039

6P4A7067

6P4A7050

6P4A7054

6P4A7056

6P4A7066

6P4A7072

S-Cube’s bonsai garden Uchiku-Tei has probably the largest collection of quality bonsai, suiseki, display tables and antiques for bonsai appreciation in Japan. It always amazes me to see what is new that Mr. Morimae’s has assembled and created for sale. This year had a real eye opener surprise for me.

6P4A7069

6P4A7057

6P4A7058

6P4A7060

6P4A7061

6P4A7070

Attached to his office complex there is a long display room filled with fine quality containers, suiseki and more, many of which originated from the famous Takagi Bonsai Collection. This time, however, I saw many empty shelves and thought to myself business must be good for Mr. Morimae. Then his daughter phoned to tell me to be sure to visit the new “Antique Building.” The huge building must be recently completed, as the paint has not dried yet. No, in keeping with the quiet aesthetic taste of Mr. Morimae all the walls are left natural to develop patina, BUT I did notice a wall outlet for i Phones. He once mentioned to me that “time is money” and it’s necessary for him to be connected at all times with his clients. As we were shopping his workers were moving all his antiques from his old display room to the new “Antique Building” which explained the many bare shelves.

6P4A7094

Next stop was the bonsai garden of Masahiko Kimura who welcomed us and showed us his newest creations, large clinging-to-a-rock bonsai. Many were already sold to Chinese clients.

6P4A7077

6P4A7087

6P4A7089

6P4A7076

6P4A7083

Next to his small lawn area framed with neatly shaped azaleas, I noticed something which appeared to be rather large piece of dead wood which was being carved. It was at least six feet tall and wide, over half the size of the car in front of it. The reason it looked like the beginning of a wooden sculpture is because all the foliage was neatly tied up in black shade cloth on the top. The area was dark and the foliage of the ancient Japanese yew, which was collected on Hokkaido Island, could not be easily seen. There was also snow around much of the base and the entire tree was mounded on a large skid reinforced by heavy metal. Mr. Kimura was studying his newest creation and said it is moved using a fork lift. I look forward to seeing this new bonsai creation in the future.

6P4A7091

6P4A7093

By the way, I recently discovered an EXCELLENT new Facebook page, Kimura’s Home Bonsai. I’m not certain, but think it’s written, photographed and videoed by one of his apprentices. VERY interesting! The videos are clear and show details on Mr. Kimura’s work. There was a recent post on how he carves, paints, highlights and plants a large rock planting. Check it out:

www.facebook.com/KimuraHomeBonsai

If you want to learn more about Masahiko Kimura you can also check out my International BONSAI magazine, the first and only professional bonsai magazine published in the United States. My most recent issue, Volume 40, issue No. 154 includes “Masahiko Kimura’s Fun Bonsai Classroom- Lesson 24” which details in 33 perfect color photos and text how he selects branches and refines an ancient Japanese red pine literati bonsai. In the past we have also featured Mr. Kimura in over 50 articles on the “Beauty of Masahiko Kimura’s Bonsai.” Check out these great and educational articles for more about his bonsai. You can easily subscribe at:

http://www.internationalbonsai.com/product/IBM-652343450

6P4A7114

6P4A7112

6P4A7101

6P4A7102

6P4A7106

Next stop was a delicious lunch at Yoshi Nakamizu’s Omiya Bonsai Restaurant across the street from the Omiya Bonsai Art Museum where went following lunch. Several of the masterpiece Japanese flowering apricot bonsai were in full blossom, and fortunately they were in the two areas where photos were allowed.

The museum was promoting a special one-man show of the beauty of Hiroshi Takeyama’s bonsai. This exhibit runs for a month from February 16 to March 14, 2018 and I’m quite sad to miss the showing of Mr. Takeyama’s bonsai. He is, probably my favorite bonsai artist I admire in Japan, well known around the world for his deciduous, forest plantings and unusual species bonsai.

6P4A7121

6P4A7116

Nearby we stopped at the Kato’s Mansei-en Bonsai Garden on our way to the Yamada Seiko-en Bonsai Garden, Murata’s Kyuka-en Bonsai Garden finally ending our busy day at Takeyama’s Fuyo-en Bonsai Garden.

6P4A7131

6P4A7125

Fuyo-en Bonsai Garden is beautiful around the year and this season features his Japanese flowering apricots, which were with full of buds. Several of his tropical species bonsai were being protected from the cold in large boxes sealed with blue tarp

6P4A7124

6P4A7128

Mr. Takeyama’s exhibition at the Omiya Bonsai Art Museum will feature over 30 of his finest masterpieces which will be changed weekly. Throughout his garden many bonsai were being protected for his showing by wrapping the containers with heavy blankets and towels. A large Magnolia bonsai, with swelling buds was covered with a light weight frost covering. I wish I could attend Mr. Takeyama’s one-man showing, but always enjoy his garden visits where one can learn by carefully studying how the trees are well cared for.

6P4A7135

6P4A7129