A Visit To Shinji Suzuki’s Bonsai Garden, Obuse, Japan

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Our tour was fortunate to visit the bonsai garden and studio of Shinji Suzuki, one of Japan’s premier creative award winning bonsai artists. His garden is full of masterpiece and important bonsai, many which have never been seen before.

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His garden design is superb and the beauty of each bonsai can be enjoyed. Small sectional displays have been set up to feature one or a group of beautiful bonsai. The entire pristine garden was clean and neat as well as his working areas.

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Obuse is located near Nagago, Japan, host for the 1998 Olympic Winter Games. This is a cold region which was so beautiful with the fresh young green foliage. Since Mr. Suzuki lives in a cold region, mostly narrow-leaf evergreen species are featured including Sargent juniper, Japanese black and five-needle pines, Needle juniper, Japanese hemlock and Ezo spruce bonsai. Deciduous bonsai are well represented with Trident and Japanese maples, Chinese quince, Chojubai Japanese flowering quince plus Chinese quince.

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Throughout our visit Mr. Suzuki was offering coffee and treats to our tour members and also had a few apprentices who spoke English present to help answer questions.

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Thank you Shinji Suzuki for your warm hospitality sharing your outstanding masterwork bonsai and inspiring us to develop and create our own distinctive bonsai.

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8th World Bonsai Convention in Saitama City, Japan– Part 3, Shohin Bonsai

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There were a great number of beautiful shohin and mame bonsai on display, many of unusual species. Each of the display compositions was well executed.

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Small bonsai are becoming more popular because of their size and beauty. If you love small size bonsai, consider joining us next month for the US National Shohin Bonsai Exhibition were they will be displayed in a unique venue. Additonally, workshops with superb plant material, lecture/demonstrations, auctions and a critique will be held. Join us! More information can be found at:

http://www.internationalbonsai.com/page/493925678

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8th World Bonsai Convention in Saitama City, Japan– Part 2

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The 8th World Bonsai Convention is now history and could probably be never repeated again! Especially in Japan. I asked numerous officials of the Nippon Bonsai Association if they can do it again…. next year. EVERY one of them burst out laughing, loud and said “I’m tired.” The were wrong with the estimated number of visitors too. They expected 20,000 visitors for the four day event, but ended up with OVER 40,000 people. Even on Sunday noontime people were waiting in line.

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This morning Kora Dalager’s and my tour of 26 people from Australia, England, Switzerland and the United States begin a week traveling around the country visiting private and public bonsai collections, the Tokoname bonsai kilns as well as other scenic and Japanese gardens in the country.

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One thousand bonsai in training by elementary students in the area display

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Spring is the worst season to display bonsai indoors. This artist is bud pinching a Japanese beech bonsai.

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There were numerous shohin and mame bonsai compositions. Look for a special post on these small jewels. If you like small bonsai, join us next month for the US National Shohin Bonsai Exhibition in North Carolina. More information here:

https://wordprehttp://www.internationalbonsai.com/page/493925678ss.com/post/valavanisbonsaiblog.com/9164

Corin Tomlinson, propertior of Greenwood Bonsai Studio in Nottingham, England and his friend Lee Wilson are on our tour. Corin’s father, Harry Tomlinson was one of the top English bonsai artists in England and sent him to me for bonsai training in 1980s to early 1990s. As part of Corin’s horticultural education at Merrist Wood College in England, he had to complete a formal apprenticeship. So through Ohio State University and Merrist Wood College a program was established where Corin could study with me. Thirty years later, Corin is now a successful bonsai artist and Greenwood Bonsai Studio is the largest bonsai center in England. He loves Japanese maples, especially the cultivar Shishigara. I’m proud that Corin continued on with his late father’s work and is doing an excellent job. He found a nice Shishigara maple to add to his collection in England in the sales area.

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Corin wanted this Shishigashira Japanese maple, but unfortunately could not afford it.

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He found this great specimen and can develop it into a masterpiece bonsai in a few years, he had great training and is combining it with his creative and horticultural talents.

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A young Corin and Bill from the last century…..

 

Look for additional reports and photos here and remember my better photos can be enjoyed in future issues of International BONSAI, the first and only professional bonsai magazine published in the United States.

8th World Bonsai Convention In Saitama City, Japan– Part 1

6P4A1532The 8th World Bonsai Convention is taking place on April 27-30, 2017 in Saitama City, Japan. Held every four years, the inaugural World Bonsai Convention was held in 1989 in the same city, Omiya (city name was changed.) There are 1,200 people registered from 40 foreign countries and it is expected that there will be 20,000 visitors during the four day event. I think most came yesterday because it was extremely difficult to see and photograph much. The event is being held in the huge Saitama Super Arena.

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Personally, this exhibition is truly a sensory overload for me! I’ve seen numerous bonsai exhibition and a countless number of bonsai during my 55 year study of bonsai in North & South America, Europe, Africa, Asia and Australia. Never, have I seen the quality and number of excellent bonsai in one location. This exhibition is far superior to a combination of the Kokufu and Taikan Bonsai Exhibitions in Japan. Truly, there has never been the quantity of award winning bonsai and “Important Bonsai Masterpieces” displayed in one venue, and that includes the special seven month long exhibit organized by the Nippon Bonsai Association for Expo ’70 the World’s Fair held in Osaka, Japan, in 1970.

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Daphne genkwa

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Seigen Japanese maple

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Ukon Japanese maple

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Burning bush, Euonymus alatus

I was actually walking around in a daze by late afternoon and needed to sit down and rest, even though there was NO pain with my new 13 week old knee. It is prohibitive to bring back bonsai to the United States due to USDA plant quarantine regulations, and I’m actually relieved, because I could actually walk past all the beautiful bonsai and spend more time studying the exhibition, while saving money too!

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Lots of people trying to see the Imperial Japanese Red Pine Bonsai. Fortunately Photoshop helped here….

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Additionally, there are continuous demonstrations by the top bonsai artists of Japan and foreign artists. PLUS, special exhibits from private bonsai collections, a display from the Imperial Bonsai and Container Collection, photographic displays of bonsai from around the world and how the art developed culturally, a special display of Saika Bonsai by the founder Kaori Yamada plus much more AND a bunch of rocks too. Actually, not a bunch of rocks: the Nippon Suiseki Association assembled the top 100 suiseki from throughout Japan. Additional posts will introduce these other displays and events once I recover…..

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A Visit To Omiya Bonsai Village

 

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We had a quiet morning visit to Omiya Bonsai Village. Most of the proprietors were at the Kokufu Bonsai Exhibition so there was not to much commotion nor visitors.

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Most of the gardens had their Japanese flowering apricots on display because they were in full blossom, mostly fragrant too.

 

 

Fuyo-en Bonsai Garden– Hiroshi Takeyama

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Kyuka-en Bonsai Garden– Isamu & Yukio Murata

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Seiko-en Bonsai Garden– Tomio & Kaori Yamada

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Mansei-en Bonsai Garden– Hatsuji & Haruhiko Kato

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Keeping the roots warm on a Japanese flowering quince

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Omiya Bonsai Art Museum

There were extensive renovations under way so our visit was not too long.

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2017 4th Nippon Suiseki Exhibition

 

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The 4th Nippon Suiseki Exhibition is being held on February 10-14, 2017, in the Tokyo Metropolitan Art Museum on the 4th floor. The Kokufu Bonsai Exhibition is on the lower level.

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Over 100 fine quality suiseki are on display from Japan and around the world.

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There are many alcove displays and it is interesting to note that nearly scroll had a moon painting

 

Additionally historic water basins and display tables were on exhibit including one valued at $30,000. I also saw two of the same display tables in the bonsai exhibition and Mr. Kobayashi pointed out the authentic and copy.

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The real thing! $30,000

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Louise Leister

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Mike Sullivan’s suiseki is special because it can be appreciated from both sides.

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The other viewing side.

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Hideko Metaxas

 

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William N. Valavanis– This suiseki is special to me because the members of the Suiseki Study Group of Upstate New York gave me this stone on my 60th birthday (5 years ago) All members signed the bottom of the diaza which Bob Blankfield hand carved. They selected this suiseki because it is similar to a mountain range in Greece my grand parents came from.

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It was very thoughtful that the Nippon Suiseki Association decided to hold their exhibition during the period of the Kokufu Bonsai Exhibition.

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2017 91st Kokufu Bonsai Exhibition­– Part 2

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The second part of the Kokufu Bonsai Exhibition opened on February 10 and ends on the 13th. All 300 plus trees from Part 1 were removed except for the Imperial Bonsai Display and two other special exhibits.

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Japanese Hemlock

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Part 2 is just as excellent as Part 1 in my opinion. A great selection of a wide variety of trees. The Nippon Bonsai Association split the trees into both parts well. Both parts had an impressive and colorful Japanese deciduous holly. Part 1 seemed to display more Ezo spruce bonsai, while I noticed many cascade pines in Part 2.

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There were 179 display areas including 51 medium size exhibits and six shohin bonsai compositions. Important Bonsai Masterpieces (Kicho Bonsai) were ten in total for this part.

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Five outstanding bonsai were selected for the Kokufu Award:

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Chinese Quince

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Chinese Quince

 

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Sargent Juniper

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Japanese Black Pine

 

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Dwarf Star Jasmine

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Yesterday we spent the morning in Omiya Bonsai Village before returning to the Suiseki Exhibition and the Kokufu Bonsai Exhibition. At the Mansei-en Bonsai Garden of the Kato family I noticed three of the six Kokufu Award bonsai. I found it interesting to learn that two the Kokufu Award bonsai were won by a husband and wife…

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Dwarf Stewartia

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Boston Ivy

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Gardenia

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Witch Hazel

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Chinese quince

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Japanese Flowering Quince

 

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Japanese Maple

 

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Japanese Maple NOT Trident Maple

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Japanese Black Pine

Back to both the Suiseki and Bonsai Exhibitions to study more and see how the trees are made and enjoy the subtle beauty of suiseki.

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