2020 94th Kokufu Bonsai Exhibition Part 4

JULIAN

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Additional interesting photos from Part 2 of the 2020 94th Kokufu Bonsai Exhibition and a few from Part 1 too. Enjoy and learn, I did.

 

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PINE

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Displayed front

 

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Another view

 

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Chojubai Flowering Quince from the Green Club sales area $700. DIY?

 

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Developed Chojubai Flowering Quince ready to display $4,000.

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Great old appearing bark on Chojubai Flowering Quince.

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Silverberry

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Mini Bonsai

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2020 An old historic unique Ezo Spruce displayed in the 1934 1st Kokufu Bonsai Exhibition.

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March 1934 1st Kokufu Bonsai Exhibition. I have many developmental photos of this bonsai which went through the Yoshimura bonsai garden.

 

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A Visit To Taisho-en Bonsai Garden

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Taisho-en Bonsai Garden is operated by Nobuichi Urushibata and his son Taiga. It is located in Shizuoka, Japan, near Mt. Fuji. Breathtaking views can be seen from streets and also at the train station where I took this photo through a window.

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Dwarf Stewartia!

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Japanese Maple $2,400

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Crepe Myrtle

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Nobuichi Urushibata is one of the top shohin bonsai artists in Japan who specializes in these diminutive treasurers. His son Taiga apprenticed with Masahiko Kimura and, of course, specializes in carving dead wood and large size bonsai. He is actually one of a small handful of professionals who can delicately wire small size as well as large size bonsai. He is quite skilled, has smarts and also speaks excellent English. A few years ago he was one of the judges and demonstrators for the 2018 US National Bonsai Exhibition. He is a popular demonstrator around the world.

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Sargent Juniper winter coloring

 

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Sargents Juniper under protective cover

 

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Nobuichi was quick to point to me that that he also works on the large size bonsai and his son also works on shohin size bonsai. This small bonsai garden is immaculate and one could eat off the floor. Each has their own apprentices to teach and train for bonsai.

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SEKKA

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2020 94th Kokufu Bonsai Exhibition Part 3

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Part 2 of the 2020 94th Kokufu Bonsai Exhibition opened this morning at the Tokyo Metropolitan Art Museum. For the first several hours it seemed as though there were more foreigners than Japanese visitors. A great number of Americans, Italians, German, French, Australians and more were among the first to appreciate some of the finest quality bonsai in Japan. The crowd quickly thinned out after lunchtime.

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OAK

Japanese oak

 

 

 

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Firethorn, Pyracantha

 

Personally, I liked the bonsai in Part 2 better than those displayed in Part 1, but those were equally beautiful. I noticed a great number of containers made by Gyozan, so I counted all of them. Mr. Yukizyuou Nakano (Gyozan) specializes in large unglazed containers, but also hand makes smaller and glazed pots too. Mrs. Nakano is a talented artist as well and often hand paints scenes on containers her husband makes. There were 96 large bonsai displayed in the main gallery and 10 were planted in Gyozan containers which equates to 11% of the large bonsai in the main gallery were made by Gyozan.

PEACH

Peach, NOT Japanese flowering apricot

I saw a Peach bonsai displayed as well as a spectacular large cascade Rose which won a Kokufu Award. I found it quite interesting that it was in the same exact position (No. 95) as the magnificent cascade award winning Magnolia displayed last year. In fact, they were both displayed on root stands, but of different sizes and heights.

 

Here is the data from Part 2 of the exhibition:

151 Exhibit Areas

106 Large Bonsai

39 Chuhin (Medium) Compositions (82 pcs.)

7 Shohin Compositions (52 pcs.)

(1 Shohin Composition was actually a “Mini” bonsai display with 10 trees)

Total Displayed Bonsai, Approximately 240

 

4 Kokufu Prizes

Kokufu Bonsai Award Japanese five-needle pine

KOKU 2

 

Kokufu Bonsai prize Chojubai Japanese flowering quince

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Kokufu Bonsai Award Hinoki cypress. This is the true species, not the commonly available dwarf cultivar.

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Kokufu Bonsai Award Japanese rose

KOKU 4

 

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2019 Kokufu Bonsai Award Magnolia. This cascade style bonsai displayed on a carved root stand was in the same location as the Kokufu Bonsai Award Rose displayed this year.

 

19 Kicho (Important Bonsai Masterpieces)

7 Special Exhibits

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

 

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One of the special exhibits was especially interesting, and at first glance looks like an unkempt off color Japanese five-needle pine. Actually, this historic bonsai is a Deodor cedar, Cedrus deodara which is extremely rare to see trained for bonsai. The Deodar cedar is, however, commonly used in Japan as garden trees or fencing. This bonsai is from the famous Keiunan Bonsai Collection of Mr. Tanaka. The bonsai was once owned by Prime Minister Shigeru Yoshida who was a bonsai collector.

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More photos of beautiful bonsai to come.

A Visit To Shunka-en Bonsai Museum

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Shunka-en Bonsai Museum in the Edogawa Ward of Tokyo is owned by award winning bonsai artist Kunio Kobayashi who is well known around the world. Visits to his museum are always one of my highlights to Japan. There is always something new to see. I was here a few weeks ago, and new bonsai have suddenly appeared, many large size Japanese black pine for the Chinese market.

 

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One of Mr. Kobayashi’s talent is to share the beauty of his art through formal bonsai display. He designed his museum to feature about 12 different display alcoves of different sizes and degrees of formality. They are always spectacular and ready to photograph.

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When our group arrived in the morning there was an army of people running around picking weeds out of the small gravel, washing containers outside on the growing tables, watering the stone paths for welcoming visitor and removing old pine needles. I’ve never seen so many people working so hard in this garden. It almost looked like my Monday Senior Crew helping me prepare for important visitors or for a show. Even Mr. Kobayashi was working picking up. Something must be going on.

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Apprentice Raphael from Poland, who spoke perfect English toured us around the museum explaining little known facts. I learned a lot from him.

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MAYOR

At 10 am the Mayor of Edogawa Ward came to visit, along with a few assistants. Mr. Kobayashi toured him around and then his youngest daughter, a tea ceremony master presented a tea ceremony for his important visitors. Mrs. Kobayashi pulled up a stool for me, but I politely excused myself to study more of Mr. Kobayashi’s artistry.

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The rest of the morning was spent looking through his garden and seeing new trees and training techniques.

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A Visit To S-Cube, Masahiko Kimura, Mansei-en and Fuyo-en Bonsai Gardens

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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.

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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.

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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.

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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.

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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.

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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.

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2020 94TH Kokufu Bonsai Exhibition– Part 2

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A few more photos from Part 1 of the 2020 94TH Kokufu Bonsai Exhibition:

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Green Island Fig

 

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Sekka Hinoki Cypress

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Trident Maple displayed by Mark Cooper from England

 

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All the front dead branches were “added” onto an unblemished trunk to add interest…

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Chojubai Japanese Flowering Quince

 

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Although the small orange red flowers and dark green foliage are attractive the MAIN reason this cultivar is grown is because of the rough bark which looks like Japanese flowering apricots

 

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2020 94TH Kokufu Bonsai Exhibition– Part 1

1Part 1 February 8-11, 2020

Part 2 February 13-16, 2020

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

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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.

KOKUFU BOOKS

Historical display of some early exhibition albums and posters.

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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!

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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

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Kokufu Award, Sargent juniper

 

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Kokufu Award, Japanese five-needle pine

 

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Kokufu Award, medium size Trident maple

 

K2Kokufu Award, Shohin bonsai composition

 

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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.

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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.

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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.

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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:

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

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A happy migrant worker!

 

2020 California Shohin Bonsai Seminar

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The 17th Biannual California Shohin Bonsai Seminar was held on January 31-February 2, 2020 in beautiful downtown Santa Nella California. Actually, Santa Nella is not much more than a truck stop on I-5, but about halfway between Los Angeles and San Francisco to make it convenient for people to attend, actually, a bit closer to San Francisco. The affordable hotel has been renovated and is quite nice now.

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This event is a closely guarded secret event not advertised, only by word of mouth, because the venue can only accommodate about 200 people. It is very reasonably priced because NOBODY gets paid. All demonstrators, workshop instructors and people running the event pay for everything as everyone volunteers their talents and expenses. Any proceeds from the vending and auction/raffle go directly to the three Golden State Bonsai Federation bonsai collections. All everyone pays for are the meals and the many workshops with excellent material.

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I’ve been fortunate to attend and teach at all of the seminars except two. I have attended with my removable boot cast and scooter, however.

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This year was the finest display of shohin bonsai ever presented to the 200 odd registrants. So here are a few photos of some of my favorite trees and also of my program and workshops.

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Hope you enjoy the photos and perhaps you might learn about the next event in 2022.

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Kito Memorial Bonsai Exhibit

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When our tour visited Seiji Morimae last week in his garden, he took me aside and told me of an important bonsai exhibit we should visit. I asked the name of the exhibit and the location in case we were in the area or for directions of how to get there. Out came his iPhone and he made a phone call to get me the exact venue. I was prepared to get a difficult address, in Japanese only, only to find the taxi driver could not find the location. He quickly said OK, the exhibit is at the Meifu Bonsai Exhibition which was on our itinerary. Sometimes one gets lucky, fate was in our favor. The exhibit was so significant that Mr. Morimae made the trip from his garden in Hanyu, Saitama Prefecture to Nagoya in Aichi Prefecture. He even wrote about the memorial exhibit in his Japanese S-Cube blog. His photograph appears in his blog during his visit.

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Sargent juniper, Juniperus chinensis var. Sargentii ‘Shimpaku.’

 

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Japanese five-needle pine, Pinus parviflora.

 

Masao Kito was a director of the Nippon Bonsai Association and an important bonsai collector who passed away last year. He assembled a remarkable bonsai collection featuring evergreen bonsai, as can be seen in his memorial exhibit. Curator of his collection is Akio Kondo who is standing on the left of the exhibit entrance in the first photo. He is an award-winning professional bonsai artist who has won numerous top awards in Japan and spends considerable time in the United States teaching with Boon in California. His work is impeccable as can be seen throughout this exhibit.

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Japanese five-needle pine, Pinus parviflora.

 

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Japanese five-needle pine, Pinus parviflora.

 

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Japanese five-needle pine, Pinus parviflora.

Each one of 12 grand bonsai were designated Important Bonsai Masterpieces (Kicho Bonsai) by the Nippon Bonsai Association. They are identified by a silver colored metal plaque and also a more familiar hanging silver tag from a branch. One often sees one or two of these treasurers in a single exhibition, but it was a real treat, at least for me, to see one dozen in one exhibit at one time. Although I’ve seen each of these bonsai before in exhibitions, books and magazines, it was a real treat to see them all displayed together. Each one of the bonsai in this memorial exhibit was an Important Bonsai Masterpiece and had both the metal tag and the metal plaque displayed with the tree.

KICHO

 

The designation of an Important Bonsai Masterpiece is determined by a panel of experts considering the tree to be outstanding because of artistic value, historical significant, rarity of species and other unusual aspects of the tree. Such designation is intended to give the bonsai protection similar to other works of fine art making it possible to keep track of changes of ownership and prevent sales to collectors abroad without the association’s permission.

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Well-spaced throughout the exhibit were old photographs of Mr. Kito rand his family. It was great that they did not obstruct the visual beauty of each bonsai which allowed them to be easily photographed with a plain background. Flanking the photograph of Mr. Kito are awards and a metal presented to him by the Emperor of Japan.

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Sargent juniper, Juniperus chinensis var. Sargentii ‘Shimpaku.’

Each bonsai was beautifully displayed on a well-balanced and designed display table which were carefully selected by the curator Akio Kondo. The mossing was exceptionally well done with different species, colors and textures. This is often overlooked when presenting a formal display, even in Japan. Look carefully at the moss in these photos.

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Silverberry, Elaeagnus pungens.

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Hinoki cypress, Chamaecyparis obtusa. This bonsai is NOT the common Dwarf hinoki cypress used for bonsai in the United States, it is the common Hinoki cypress used as a large timber tree in Japan.

 

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Sargent juniper, Juniperus chinensis var. Sargentii ‘Shimpaku.’

 

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Japanese black pine, Pinus thunbergii.

 

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Toyo Nishiki Japanese flowering quince, Chaenomeles speciosa ‘Toyo Nishiki,’ featuring red, pink and white flowers in spring.

 

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Japanese grey-bark elm, Zelkova serrata.

 

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Chojubai Dwarf Japanese flowering quince, Chaenomeles japonica ‘Chojubai.’

 

Appropriately sized accessory plantings were well spaced between the bonsai which added seasonal interest and a slight visual rest between each of the bonsai.

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Colts foot, Tussilago farara, an invasive perennial with Dandelion-like yellow flowers. The golden yellow flowers die before the foliage appears in spring. It is often used as a bonsai accessory during winter displays.

2020 90th Meifu Bonsai Exhibition

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The 90th Meifu Bonsai Exhibition was held on January 10-12, 2020 in the Fukiage Hall in Nagoya, Japan. It is sponsored by Chubu Bonsai Cooperative, which is a professional bonsai organization. The exhibition is held in a huge clear span building with excellent lighting and wide aisles. The Gafu Ten Shohin Exhibition, held in Kyoto, was held on the same dates so we were able to visit this exhibition as well.

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The Meifu Bonsai Exhibition is the second longest running show in Japan, just under the Kokufu Bonsai Exhibition which will hold the 94th show on February 8-11 and 13-16, 2020. It is the third largest bonsai exhibition and Japan and an important venue to see and study fine-quality bonsai of a great number of species and styles. There was only one shohin bonsai composition displayed, but we had a couple of days at the Gafu Ten Shohin Bonsai Exhibition which displayed 535 small bonsai.

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There were over 130 masterpiece bonsai displayed with accessories and suiseki. Many of these bonsai are owned by hobbyists, but displayed by the professional bonsai artists. A large percentage of these displayed bonsai have or will be displayed in the Kokufu Bonsai Exhibition. All very high-quality works of art.

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Taiwan boxwood featuring deeply fissured bark.

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A large full-color commemorative album is always published which is an excellent study guide for design as well as illustrating the current state of the Japanese bonsai community.

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There were several special displays this year. The top Tokoname bonsai ceramic artists were featured in an unusual table top display showing their bonsai containers being used to hold bonsai. We were fortunate to meet Kakuzan, one of the potters who made the large container for Japanese black pine from the collection of Yasuo Mitsuya. Mr. Mitsuya is well known in the United States for his demonstrations and instructions. He displayed his Japanese black pine which is approximately 130 years old and under his training for over 50 years.

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Mr.Kakuzan, left, next to the container he made for Mr. Mitsuya’s Japanese black pine he trained for over 50 years. Yasuo Mitsuya, right, with the first and only professional bonsai magazine published in the United States.

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Another display featured four large panels with paintings displayed with bonsai, something new in Japan. You could sit on the low red benches and absorb the beauty of this exhibition while enjoying a cup of traditional green tea used in the formal Japanese tea ceremony with a sweet snack.  I personally walked 5.8 miles today looking at bonsai, and needed to rest my booted foot. A sales area completed the exhibition which featured a good number of vendors selling tools, containers, art, scrolls, display tables, suiseki, wire and of course bonsai.

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Perhaps the most special display this year was a commemorative for Masaru Kito, who passed away three years ago. This significant display will be the introduced in tomorrow’s blog since I’m too tired to adjust the images now and do need some sleep. So, look for something special tomorrow.

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