A Visit To Omiya Bonsai Village

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Last week we visited several of the bonsai gardens in Omiya Bonsai Village. Our first stop was the garden of Masahiko Kimura. Of course there were magnificent masterpiece bonsai as always with heavy interesting trunks featuring sculptured dead wood and refined branching.

 

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However, I noticed something new, rock plantings, and lots of them. The first demonstration at the 8th World Bonsai Convention was presented by Mr. Kimura who showed how to create a clinging-to-a-rock bonsai. He used a rather tall rock he made and planted several Sargent junipers grown from airlayers. The trees were already trained and Mr. Kimura planted them in shallow crevasses he designed in the stone. During his visits to China he was very impressed with the tall narrow mountains and wanted to create a similar, but refined scene.

 

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His garden featured several size clinging-to-a-rock planting created using artificial stones he made planted with Sargent junipers and Tsuyama hinoki cypress. They were quite impressive because of their great size and suggestive beauty. Most of them were not displayed in his garden a few months earlier. He must have been quite busy. Perhaps these creations are more affordable for customers to purchase than the old collected evergreen bonsai he is well known for.

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I’m only photographed here for scale, even though I’m vertically challenged, the rocks are large and probably heavy too!

 

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The Omiya Bonsai Art Museum was beautiful as always and featured numerous bonsai from prominent bonsai artists.

 

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Mr. Kato’s Mansei-en Bonsai was full of large size bonsai, many of which were displayed a few days earlier at the convention.

 

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Mr. Takeyama’s Fuyo-en Bonsai Garden took on a different color than which I’m most familiar with. The deciduous trees were bright green full of fresh new growth. Usually our tours visit Omiya when the bonsai are in full autumn colorings or in winter when the delicate twigs can be appreciated.

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I noticed a well known famous Trident maple masterpiece with an unusually large wide surface root display. The bonsai looks like it was recently transplanted this spring and the widest ends of the surface roots were shaved back to fit into the container leaving a narrow edge of soil around the roots. There must be some surface area where water can easily reach the feeder roots. Bonsai with such a large surface root area must be carefully monitored for watering. Also, the surface root are of many bonsai with a prominent surface root displayed are protected with moist rags during the hottest summer days. Moist rags are simply draped over the surface root bark.

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A Visit To Seiji Morimae’s S-Cube & Uchiku-Tei Bonsai Garden

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A few days ago our group visited Uchiku-Tei Bonsai Garden at S-Cube in Hanyu, north of Omiya. This is the headquarters of Seiji Morimae, a professional bonsai artist who specializes in high quality bonsai, suiseki, antiques and display.

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A few hours earlier he returned home bringing six truck loads of bonsai, suiseki, display tables and more from the 8th World Bonsai Convention. By the time we arrived early on Monday morning everything was unloaded and all the bonsai were watered. Mr. Morimae is the chief director of the Nippon Suiseki Association and designed their display at the World Bonsai Convention.

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He can trace his family back to 500 years of gardeners and horticulturists. His family and staff made us all feel welcome which delayed our next stop to Masahiko Kimura over one hour late. Our group always loves to shop at his garden because of the excellent quality of items for sale, and at great prices too!

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He has well over 3,000 bonsai plus suiseki, antique containers and other art. He always has something different to enthusiastically show our group. This year was no exception. A few years after Daizo Iwasaki’s passing Mr. Morimae purchased over 1,000 bonsai from the Iwasaki Collection. Three of which he donated to the US National Bonsai & Penjing Museum at the US National Arboretum in Washington, DC.

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This year he told us he also purchased most of Mr. Iwasaki’s large trained specimen garden trees, stones and more. Many of these large garden trees are at his garden in Hanyu and somewhere else where they will be planted at a new bonsai museum he is building in Kyoto. He showed us a few of the large garden pines which are now planted in huge wooden boxes. Some of these trained garden pines are valued at $750,000.

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Collected Japanese red pine from Korea in Mr. Iwasaki’s Takasago-an garden several years ago.

 

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The same ancient Japanese red pine in Mr. Kato’s garden

Numerous old collected Japanese red pines from Korea were featured in Mr. Iwasaki’s garden “Takasago-an.” I remember one spectacular specimen in the garden well and saw it in Mr. Kato’s Mansei-en Bonsai Garden in Omiya Bonsai Village, now in a large wooden box. I wonder where it will end up… and also which country too.

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A Visit To Kunio Kobayashi’s Shunka-en Bonsai Museum

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Last week before the Opening Ceremony of the 8th World Bonsai Convention in Saitama, our group visited Mr. Kobayashi’s museum. Each time I visit this special garden there seems to be more and more bonsai, especially large size specimens. This visit was not an exception, except that the garden was also full of foreign visitors from Europe and China.

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Despite his busy schedule, Mr. Kobayashi took time to greet us and autograph his books. His museum has about a dozen alcoves where his masterpiece bonsai and suiseki are formally displayed in the three levels of formality. It was wonderful to see the deciduous bonsai with fresh green foliage as I usually see them in their autumn colors or in their defoliated stage.

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8th World Bonsai Convention in Saitama City, Japan– Part 4 Private Collection Displays

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Several bonsai collectors had their own individual displays at the World Bonsai Convention. These were not simply a few tables put together to feature their own personal collections of bonsai, suiseki and antique containers. But, rather full blown displays, which would make any bonsai club, show envious. Many of their bonsai are easily valued at more than an entire club show. One of the bonsai on display, I’m not saying which one, is valued at over US$450,000. Here are a few of the collections which I think you might enjoy which I was able to photograph. Some were so crowded it was impossible to photographed.

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Bonsai Keiuman

This unusual display was rather modern compared to traditional Japanese presentations and was designed by Seiji Morimae, proprietor of S Cube. The display was “U” shaped with a collection of antique containers in the center on individual pedestals in glass cases so they could be enjoyed from all sides. The black background accented with red was rather striking and really presented the bonsai well, but were difficult to photograph. Masahiko Kimura originally created many of the bonsai.

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Shinji Suzuki maintains this collection and our group saw several of the bonsai in his garden a few days after the World Bonsai Convention. A few of my photographs of them in Mr. Suzuki’s garden came out better than in the convention display.

 

Funayama Collection

Mr. Funayama has a private collection of primarily Japanese five-needle pine bonsai at his home, north of Tokyo. Additionally he has a rather valuable collection of antique containers, although they were not displayed. His display, also designed by Seiji Morimae, was a walk through presentation with two long low boxes filled with sand and many suiseki adorned with moss in the center. Two pines, one on each end of the two long boxes combined with the stones and moss reminded me of scenic Japan. The boxes were surrounded by bonsai with a light yellow background, which was similar in color to many of the pines, which made them difficult to photograph.

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Seiji Morimae and his assistants also maintain the Funayama Collection. A few years ago he took me to visit Mr. Funayama. During lunch Mr. Funayama showed me an old photograph of one of his prized Japanese five-needle pine bonsai from an exhibition around 1940. The photo was so old that it was in black and white, rather than color. That was the last time it was displayed until the Asia Pacific Bonsai & Suiseki Convention in Takamatsu held in November 2011. Mr. Morimae designed and had handmae in China for this bonsai which was valued at US$1,000,000.

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Suiseki Exhibition

The Nippon Suiseki Association had a special area for their display of the 100 finest Japanese suiseki. Individually, I’ve been fortunate to have seen many of these masterpieces, but never have I seen so many in one exhibit before. I doubt if many of the 45,000 visitors to the World Bonsai Convention realized what they were looking at. Since many of the stones were small in size, but huge in suggestive expression they were displayed under glass for protection.

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This exhibit was again designed by Seiji Morimae who is the chief director of the Nippon Suiseki Association which is headed up by Kunio Kobayashi.

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Hasaka Collection

Since this special display was near the entrance to the exhibition it was quite crowded and also difficult to photograph against the gold background. Mr. Hasaka has one of the finest bonsai collections primarily of pine bonsai. His new garden is near Nikko.

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Saika Bonsai & Photo Collaboration

Saika bonsai is a rather unusual style of bonsai created and promoted by Kaori Yamada, the 5th generation of Seiko-en Bonsai Garden in Omiya Bonsai Village. Her father, Tomio Yamada is a prominent bonsai artist who has excellent refined taste and maintained the Takagi Bonsai Collection which was the beginning of the Omiya Bonsai Art Museum.

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Originally Keiko Yamada did not want to join the family bonsai business and graduated college with a degree in marketing and wanted to become a flight attendant. But her love of bonsai became strong and she wanted expand the art to women and young people because bonsai is considered to be an old man’s hobby which seemed to by dying out in Japan. She invented “Saika Bonsai,” which means colorful flower bonsai which uses flowers and grasses along with trees, usually in a container small enough to be held in two hands to make it easy for women to handle. Saika bonsai has become popular and she has authored several books and hosted weekly TV series as well as teaching at the family bonsai garden in Omiya.

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Her special display at the World Bonsai Convention was titled “Timeless Moment a Collaboration of Saika Bonsai & Photographs by Hiroyuki Kudoh.” It was presented in a unique black setting of two rooms, each with two saika bonsai and one large photograph. Hiroyuki Kudoh is a professional photographer who shoots landscapes in the northern regions of Japan for magazines and books. Ms. Yamada’s style is to express scenery in a limited atmosphere and has captured the attention of women and other young people.

Its interesting to note that another new bonsai form “saikei” which was invented by Toshio Kawamoto in the 1960s after World War II was not represented at the World Bonsai Convention because the form does not have any followers in Japan. Saikei, which is a registered trademark, seems to be more popular outside Japan.

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.