2019 93rdKokufu Bonsai Exhibition Part 1– Part 2

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All the bonsai were lovingly cared for all day long.

 

6P4A9523.jpgPart 1 of the 93rdKokufu Bonsai Exhibition ended yesterday. Today, Wednesday, all the bonsai will be replaced with new specimens for the public to enjoy and study. For me, personally, it’s kind of like a new semester in my intense bonsai study. So, that must mean that today is “winter break” between semesters. What am I going to do on my day off? Take a couple of trains to Omiya Bonsai Village where I was an apprentice over 45 years ago.

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Mr. Saito displayed one of his many bonsai, a past Kokufu Prize Trident maple.

 

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Chojubai Japanese Flowering Quince

 

 

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Dwarf Kumquat

 

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Japanese Black Pine

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Sargent Juniper

 

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Japanese Red Pine

 

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Siverberry

 

When the guides to the Kokufu Bonsai Exhibition were handed out there was a slip of paper, or ballot for people to vote for their favorite two bonsai. This was only in the Japanese guide, not the English list of trees. We call that the People’s Choice, which I never liked or will do because I think it’s silly. People usually select a forest, or large bonsai or the tree with the most blossoms. The general public is not familiar with bonsai so their opinion is useless in the evaluation of bonsai. Yes, it shows what attracts them, however. For Part 1 of the Kokufu Bonsai Exhibition the two bonsai the public selected was a Hinoki Cypress forest and a small mame bonsai composition. Mame bonsai are smaller than shohin bonsai and are slowly becoming popular in Japan. I was amazed they did not select one of the several beautiful fragrant Japanese flowering apricot bonsai. Perhaps, because they are common and now flowering in gardens.

 

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Tsuyama Hinoki Forest people’s choice

 

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Mame Bonsai Composition people’s choice

 

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Trident Maple

 

 

 

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Japanese Black Pine

 

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Potentilla

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Camellia

 

Although Japan has had a very long history of displaying and appreciating bonsai, they just started a People’s Choice event. Many decades ago at a Washington, DC convention, before Japan hosted the first World Bonsai Convention, Mr. Takeyama came up to me and asked why people were buying small pieces of paper and tearing them in half. He had never seen raffle tickets. Yes, at the first World Bonsai Convention in Omiya they had raffle tickets!

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There’s one in every exhibition, even in Japan….6P4A9618 copy.jpg

Trident Maple

I asked why there were ten fewer bonsai in the exhibition and was told they removed an entire row of trees and replaced it with a photo gallery AND the size of the display areas was increased 10 to 15cm each. That explains to me why there were not too many Satsuki azaleas displayed. They had the large poster images of the flowering Satsuki azalea bonsai on the posters displays thus adding color. I wonder if they will change the poster display for part 2? Oh, I did carefully count the number of bonsai displayed with suiseki. There were four and interestingly displayed near each other. Perhaps they were displayed by the same person, not the owner which are two different people.

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Part 2 of the 93rdKokufu Bonsai Exhibition begins tomorrow. Also opening tomorrow morning will be the 6thNippon Suiseki Exhibition, also in the same building, but in the second floor Gallery.

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Japanese Five-needle Pine

I wonder what I can learn today for my trip “back to school” in Omiya Bonsai Village….

2019 93rd Kokufu Bonsai Exhibition Part 1– Part I

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The 93rdedition of the Kokufu Bonsai Exhibition is being held on February 9-12, 2019 in the Tokyo Metropolitan Art Museum in Ueno Park, Tokyo. This, the finest and most prestigious bonsai exhibition in the world has always been held in the same venue for 91 events. When Norio Kobayashi and Count Matsudaira starte d the exhibition in 1934 it was held twice yearly. The exhibition was stopped during WWII, then resumed on a yearly basis. Several years ago the exhibition needed to be moved to a nearby industrial building because the museum was being remodeled to become handicap accessible. The renovations created a smaller exhibition area with fewer number of bonsai being displayed. So, the Nippon Bonsai Association simply changed the show into two parts, thus being able to display more trees and also receive more exhibition fees from their members.

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This year there was a noticeably, (for me at least who has attended most of the exhibitions for over 45 years,) fewer trees displayed. This was clearly evident with the removal of one entire row against a far wall and hanging large photos of blossoming satsuki azalea bonsai, with the cultivars in English too. This served two purposes, making wider aisles and adding color to a relatively winter bonsai appearance. The ten fewer bonsai was well compensated by the high quality specimens. I was NOT disappointed.

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Also, there were a couple of other changes. The two special exhibits, one from the Imperial Bonsai Collection were moved and also the small room with shohin and medium size bonsai has been rearranged. A couple of nice little changes.

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Silverberry

 

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Japanese five-needle pine

 

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Koto Hime Japanese Maple

 

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Kokufu Award

Japanese Flowering Apricot

 

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Kokufu Award

Japanese Maple

 

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Kokufu Award

Sargent Juniper

 

2019 Part 1 Statistics

151 Individual Bonsai Displays(2018, 161)

97 Large Bonsai(2018, 116)

47 Medium Bonsai(2018, 41)

7 Shohin Bonsai Compositions (2018, 4)

19 Registered Important Bonsai Masterpieces(2018, 18)

3 Kokufu Bonsai Prizes(2018, 5)

“About” 4 Bonsai Displayed with Suiseki(2018, 2)

There may be more, I forgot to count carefully. I’ve only made one visit to this show this year. But, by tonight, I’ll have the entire exhibition memorized, and will need to start all over on Thursday for Part 2.

 

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Japanese Red Pine, Important Bonsai Masterpiece, displayed by Doug Paul, The Kennett Collection.

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Tsuyama Hinoki Cypress

 

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Trident Maple

 

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Shishigashira Japanese Maple

 

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Japanese Black Pine

 

 

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Unryu Boston Ivy

 

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Japanese Maple

 

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Japanese Five-needle Pine

 

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Japanese Fine-tooth Holly

 

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Japanese Five-needle Pine

 

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Zuisho Japanese Five-needle Pine. I used to water and care for this bonsai when I was an apprentice in Omiya Bonsai Village in 1971-1972.

There are many stunning bonsai, several rock plantings which are not common in this exhibition. One interesting clinging-to-a-rock planting displayed on a flat black board with sand surrounding the stone. There were a few stray grains of sand, but I did not want to take the time to clean them up in Photoshop for this blog. As always, the best photos will be published in a future issue of International BONSAI.

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Enjoy the photos, which we call “Bonsai Porn.” More photos tomorrow hopefully.

 

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A Scots Pine Bonsai

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I like Scots pine, Pinus sylvestris and also many of it’s different cultivars. This bonsai is the common Scots pine, not a special variety. It began as a one gallon pot seedling in 1970 which cost me $5. The tree developed nicely into a masterpiece specimen in 2008. I sold the bonsai to a client in 2006 and she displayed it in the 1st US National Bonsai Exhibition in 2008.
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Unfortunately, the client did not care for the Scots pine correctly, the tree declined, lost a few branches and the fine established shape developed for over 40. I got the tree back in 2012 and after it became vigorous again restyling began. The tree was repotted and allowed to grow slowly.
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Thinning out before wiring– January 2019
This is the year for working on the Scots pine to develop a refined appearance again. Although I’m busy now writing the 6th US National Bonsai Exhibition Commemorative Album, I took a few hours off to do some initial work on this Scots pine bonsai. I need to bring the tree to a memorial service for one of the past presidents of the Bonsai Society of Upstate New York Inc.
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Branching
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Root display after
Today, all I did was to thin out the tree, no time for wiring now. But, after thinning out the tree it presented a different quiet naturalistic beauty without wire. This year compact foliage pads will be formed with wire to create a refined classical bonsai again.
Perhaps the tree will be raised to make it a more upright form. Now, all I need is to find time to wire this bonsai. Perhaps I can get Alan Adair my assistant and Curator of the Living Collection at the International Bonsai Arboretum, to wire the tree before I shape it? He is busy now wiring another major Dwarf RAF Scots pine, but it is nearly now finished.
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January 2019
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Scroll detail
A special scroll was used for this display featuring snowflakes. So far, and we are not nearly over yet, we have had 29″ of snow. Normally we will get over 100″ of the white stuff I hate. So, this scroll is appropriate for a winter display. This winter display included a bronze incense burner, complete with snow to suggest cold weather. Actually the temperature was 50F today, and I loved it!
However, this scroll can also be depicting falling cherry blossoms. I often use it in April and May to denote a spring seasonal event.

2018 6thWinter Silhouette Bonsai Expo

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The 6th Winter Silhouette Bonsai Expo was held on December 1-2, 2018 at the North Carolina Research Campus in Kannapolis, North Carolina. This unique venue is an elegant building, marble lined with a four story atrium, the tallest south of Washington, DC, even taller than the state capital of Georgia. All six of these events have been sponsored and well organized by Steve Zeisel who wants to promote bonsai in the region. Everything is free, admission, bonsai entries and even the vendor fees. He only tries to break even with the event, and he does with the generous donations from the vendors and friends during a benefit auction.

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I’ve been fortunate and honored to participate in all six of the Winter Silhouette Bonsai Expos and have carefully studied all the bonsai, especially since I’ve been the judge for all of the shows. Each year the quality of the individual bonsai increases, but this year there was a tremendous leap ahead of all past shows. It was wonderful to see so much effort and creativity also put into the individual displays. None of the displays just included a lonely bonsai. They had accessories, companion plantings, other art, paintings, prints, scrolls and even a rusty old heater and bricks.

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In fact, Steve added another award for the best display which was won by Tyler Sherrod with a Vine maple bonsai accompanied with a hanging scroll and small garden lantern.

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Although this is a “Winter Silhouette” exhibition, evergreens as well as fruiting and deciduous bonsai were tastefully displayed. Some of the evergreen bonsai were in their winter color which added another dimension to the show. It would be very boring to see only deciduous bonsai. There were approximately 70 bonsai on display from throughout the southeast, Pennsylvania and New York. Each was a treasured gem of the exhibitor and meticulously prepared for show, just like in Japan.

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There were four Winter Silhouette Bonsai Expo lecture/demonstrations presented by Rodney Clemons (Georgia), Tyler Sherrod (North Carolina) assisted by Matt Reel, Owen Reich (Tennessee) and William N. Valavanis (New York) assisted by Sean Smith who also judged the show and presented an educational constructive critique of the bonsai and displays. Three rooms were filled to capacity with vendors offering anything you could imagine for bonsai creation and appreciation.

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I’ve attended and participated in numerous bonsai events around the world, and the North Carolina Research Campus is the most elegant and beautiful venue I’ve seen, truly. I always enjoy displaying and supporting this worthwhile and important event for bonsai in the United States featuring bonsai in their naked glory. I personally think the Winter Silhouette Bonsai Expo is rapidly becoming an American version of the famous Japanese Kokufu Bonsai Exhibition held in Ueno Park, Tokyo,Japan.

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MARTIN 2 4

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MUTH 3

MERCER 6

 

I look forward to next year’s Winter Silhouette Bonsai Expo on December 7-8, 2019. Enjoy my bonsai display photos of the event and the beautiful professional photos by Joe Noga. Additional high quality portrait photos will appear in a future issue of International BONSAI magazine.

FARWELL

If you can’t wait to see this beautiful venue, join us in June for the 2019 2ndUS National Shohin Bonsai Exhibition.

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2018 38th Nippon Bonsai Taikan Exhibition Part 4

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I spent my fourth and last day of study at the Nippon Bonsai Taikan Ten. Each time I traveled through the exhibition new trees, companion plantings and display are discovered. After the exhibition and sushi, I return to my hotel to check the photos and adjust interesting images for digital viewng.

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The crowds are large in the morning each day, then they die down after lunch time. Over 10,000 visitors are expected which is a bit larger than in the past exhibitions under the leadership of Shinji Suzuki, chairman for the event. There were several foreign tour groups from Germany, Italy and other European countries. Often they go through the exhibition then on to the sales area. But occasionally I’ve seen some foreigners actually studying the bonsai and photographing.

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Each day I continue to take photos for this blog, my PowerPoint presentations and International BONSAI.Several bonsai I missed during the last four days were photographed today with my iPhone X Max. It’s a great camera, as you have seen.

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As displayed.

 

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I think this might make a better composition….

 

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Although I’ve visited the sales area daily, today I spent a bit more time looking at the beautiful bonsai. Looking at all the great bonsai at bargain prices is teasing to Americans, because it’s extremely difficult to get the trees into our country.

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Again I visited again with Gerald Rainville from the Vancouver, Canada area. Last week we saw him at work at Koji Hiramatsu’s nursery in Takamatsu where he has been studying for the past few weeks. He’s been wiring small shohin Japanese black pines. Mr. Hiramatsu first started Gerald with wiring older larger shohin pines with large trunks. Then he wired 60 smaller Japanese black pine bonsai. Perhaps he started with the older pines because they had already been wired and trained in years past. The new pines did not have much training and Gerald did the initial styling. Along with Gerald was Evan Marsh from Sydney, Australia helping customers and meeting new foreign visitors at Mr. Hiramatsu’s sales area.

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Gerald Rainville wired 60 of these small Japanese black pine bonsai. Only two remain.

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I hope you all enjoyed my trip to Japan through my blog as much as I enjoyed sharing the images and commentary with you. If you found the trip interesting, please consider joining Kora Dalager and me for our small size tour to visit the Kokufu Bonsai Exhibition coming up in February. Send for a tour flyer or check out my website at:

http://www.internationalbonsai.com/files/1708315/uploaded/2018%20AUTUMN%20TOUR%20FLYER.pdf

We will of course, also lead another tour to Japan next autumn to visit the 39thNippon Bonsai Taikan Exhibition. And, next year the exhibition will not fall on the Thanksgiving holiday and people can join us exploring Japan and return home in time to spend the holiday with family and friends.

 

Tomorrow morning I return to reality, and the upcoming forecast blizzard in Chicago on my way home to Rochester, New York. Then I turn around and pack up on Tuesday and Wednesday so we can leave for the Winter Silhouette Bonsai Expo on Thursday. This exhibition is held in an elegant venue covered with marble walls and floors at the North Carolina Research Lab in Kannapolis, North Carolina on December 1-2, 2018. Consider attending this superb FREE exhibition featuring naked bonsai. Along with other bonsai artists I’ll be presenting a demonstration and critique on Sunday morning. My Saturday afternoon lecture/demo will explore cascade style bonsai with new photos from this tour. And, of course there will be three rooms with vendors offering their finest plants, containers and more, just in time for Xmas shopping. I hope to welcome you to the Winter Silhouette Bonsai Expo in Kannapolis, North Carolina, just outside Charlotte. Check out:

https://www.winterbonsai.net

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2018 38th Nippon Bonsai Taikan Exhibition Part 3

 

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Bonsai artist Shinji Suzuki is chairman of this year’s Nippon Bonsai Taikan Exhibition. I’ve attended about 30 of these exhibitions and this year, with Mr. Suzuki’s direction there are numerous changes. Some of the exhibition areas are much taller than normal. It looks like some of the rows are a bit longer because the space between the displays and side walls are much narrower.

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Mr. Suzuki had two unique displays. His son Hiroyuki made tall, narrow, mysterious artificial rocks and planted them with small size Sargent junipers. The trees looked like they were hanging on to life on cliff edges. The main display was quite long and the title was “Back to the Source” featuring a moon in the background. There were numerous small lights highlighting the beautiful mountains. Perhaps Hiroyuki Suzuki learned how to create the artificial stones when he was an apprentice to Mr. Kimura.

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Hiroyuki Suzuki

TEAM SUZUKI

Additionally, Shinji Suzuki along with famous Chinese painter, Zhao Dun presented another display on the front side. Last year he displayed a powerful Sargent juniper in his display. Zhao Dun created a painting of the bonsai and a photo of the actual bonsai was hung below the painting. To the right three large artificial stones, also planted with Sargent juniper added to the effect. All that was missing was new age music. I have never seen such modern creativity in Japan. Personally, it reminded me of bonsai on display at a flower and garden show in the United States rather than a refined Japanese bonsai exhibition. I liked the two displays and spent some time contemplating their meaning. Go Team Suzuki!

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Another new addition to was the large S-Cube Gallery of Seiji Morimae’s sales area in the exhibition area, in front of the vendor area. Mr. Morimae designed the display featuring seven alcoves complete with lighting. Five of the alcoves featured bonsai created by Masahiko Kimura and two with antique Chinese containers. Everything was well labeled, complete with prices, which were high end. Please note the small red tags which means sold.

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15.jpgThe exhibition opened at 9:00am on Friday morning. By 10:00am ALL of Mr. Kimura’s bonsai were sold. And by noon ALL of the Chinese bonsai containers were also sold. The least expensive bonsai was $18,000. One antique Chinese container was sold at $180,000. Some are destined for China. It appeared to me the expensive items sold while some less expensive bonsai, containers and display tables remained, but there are still two days of sales remaining.

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Opposite the wall of seven alcoves were more bonsai, some huge and several collections of beautiful containers. There was a great large Japanese grey bark elm bonsai which was actually sold while Mr. Morimae’s team were setting up.

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At the end of the S-Cube Gallery was a wall with smaller suiseki and display tables, not necessarily cheaper. On the back side of the wall was another sales area featuring smaller and less expensive bonsai. Directly on the floor, on blue carpet, many new large blue glazed were lighted and for sale. All sold. Check out the red sold tags. The number of individual red tags on a container indicate how many containers of each style were sold.

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A lovely young woman was selling artificial bonsai she made at the end of the long sales area. They were very realistic and the designs appeared to be well trained bonsai. The trunks are made if clay, and were a bit expensive. But they don’t need to be watered, trimmed or cared for, only periodically dusted. Perfect for many people.

2018 38th Nippon Bonsai Taikan Exhibition Part 2

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The exhibition officially opened after the ribbon cutting ceremony at 8:40am. Politicians, Japanese bonsai dignitaries, a Chinese penjing collector and American bonsai bonsai leader cut the red and white ribbon to allow a crowd of visitors entry to the exhibition.

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The Prime Minister Award was presented to a Japanese black pine originally created by Mr. Kimura.

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There were a great number of Japanese and foreign visitors on the opening day, and most foreigners went directly into the huge sales area to get the “good items” before others. I seriously doubt Japan would sell out. However, Mr. Morimae did sell out before noon, and that report tomorrow.

There were six special displays including a one man showing from Mr. Kobayashi and Mr. Suzuki, more details tomorrow on Mr. Suzuki and his son’s displays.

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Mr. Saito’s display featured Rough bark Japanese maples

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SPECIAL DISPLAY 2

Mr. Funayama’s display featured Japanese five-needle pine from Shikoku, Nasu and Azama.

SPECIAL DISPLAY 3

 

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Mr. Kobayashi’s displayed some of his finest creations including a famous Chinese quince from the collection of Yasunari Kawabata, a Japanese novelist and Nobel Prize winner in literature.

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The displays were superb as were the individual bonsai. They looked much better formally displayed. The common display area entry fee is $500, while the larger alcove like areas with purple bunting were $1,000. One of the special displays cost $10,000.

JULIAN

BUDDY

Enjoy, time for me to return to the show.