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:

2020 copy

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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MITSUYA

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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2020 45th Gafu Ten Shohin Bonsai Exhibition– Part 3

 

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Sales Area

Like most exhibitions, this is the most popular area of the event. Most foreigners go past the bonsai exhibition upon entry and head directly to the sales area. Nearly anything you need or want for bonsai creation, training or appreciation can be found here, except for collected trees. A few items are quite inexpensive, but most are on the higher end because many Japanese spend more than foreigners on their hobby. Inside the sales area you can find a good size quick eating corner where hot food, sandwiches and bento boxes can be inexpensively purchased and enjoyed there. Near the entrance to the sales area a TV was playing a great video on shohin bonsai. Once inside a layout sign with the names of the 50 plus vendors are listed so you can find what you are looking for.

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AWARDS

An area was set up for short demos and even workshops. Guided tours of the exhibition will be held on Sunday. The demo area was rearranged later on Saturday for the award ceremony.

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Winter Flowering Jasmine

 

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Dwarf Star Jasmine

 

PRIVET

Rough Bark Privet

 

SERISSA

Serissa!!

 

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White Spindle Tree

 

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Common Privet

 

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Crepe Myrtle

 

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During the set-up three photographers from Kinbon magazine were shooting all the bonsai for the commemorative photo album which will be published in spring. Each composition was carefully placed on the photo stage and checked with snapshots for exact placement. The commemorative album will be published in a few months.

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Even show chairman, Koji Hiramatsu, helped watering

Like all Japanese bonsai exhibitions, the Gafu Ten Shohin Bonsai Exhibition did not disappointed and I was very impressed with the organization, layout and how the professionals staffed the event. Plus, and more importantly, the small size jewels of this Japanese bonsai art were exquisite and beautifully displayed for visitors to appreciate and study. Tomorrow morning we will be rushing to Nagoya for another large bonsai exhibition.

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2020 45th Gafu Ten Shohin Bonsai Exhibition– Part 2

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Special Displays

There are several special display in this year’s Gafu Ten Shohin Bonsai Exhibition. It was interesting to view the special display of Registered Important Masterpiece containers, all in clear plexi glass boxes. Matt Ouwinga from Maryland had four of his rare and antique pots displayed.

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The 15th bonsai container completion was also held. The beautiful containers, most of these containers are too fancy to use in my opinion because they draw the viewer’s eye before the bonsai and are distracting. However, like most people who grow bonsai, I too, collect containers for their beauty and unique qualities. I even have a pink container with feet looking like a duck. Yes, it came from Tokoname. And today I even saw two shohin bonsai containers bright gold, looking like the precious metal. They were under two inches in size and over $300 each. By the way, $300 for a small shohin container is not unusual here. Three tall hand carved root stands were also displayed here too. But, like most of the containers, looked too ornate for displaying bonsai. Some even had monkeys carved into the “roots.”

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POTS

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The 6th World Shohin Bonsai Photo Award contest displayed 11 photos of bonsai submitted by foreigners.

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A developmental displayed featured ten small bonsai in training with multiple old photos showing how they were trained. It was quite interesting to see how the artists used their techniques to create great bonsai. Quite an educational display.

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Another special display featured a curated fine-quality small bonsai and containers for sale by the professional Shohin Bonsai Association. They were against a black background on black boxes quite dramatic.

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Sargent Juniper $12,000

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Chinese Quince $6,500

QUINCE

Chojubai Japanese Flowering Quince $3,500

 

SHISHIGASHIRA

Shishigashira Japanese Maple $6,800

 

BLACK PINE

Japanese Black Pine $6,500

Each individual small bonsai was beautifully displayed and prepared for this, the highest level shohin bonsai exhibition.

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