Bonsai Tonight

Shohin bonsai at Kokufu 88

Posted in Excursions, Exhibits by Jonas Dupuich on April 22, 2014

Shohin bonsai, at Kokufu-ten, are saved for the last room. Each half of this year’s exhibit featured five displays with five or six trees each, followed by a handful of kifu-sized bonsai. Although many visitors have had it by the time they make it to the shohin room – not everyone is used to seeing 200+ bonsai in a single day – just about everyone lights up at the sight of the small-sized trees.

Visitors at the shohin display area

Visitors in the shohin room at Kokufu #88

The trees in these displays are exquisite.

Japanese flowering quince 'Chojubai'

Japanese Flowering quince ‘Chojubai’

Chinese juniper

Chinese juniper

Japanese flowering quince 'Chojubai'

Japanese Flowering quince ‘Chojubai’

White pine

Japanese white pine

Japanese flowering quince 'Chojubai'

Japanese Flowering quince ‘Chojubai’

Equally impressive is the arrangement of trees in each display.

Shohin display

Shohin display

A surprising number of conventions guide the arrangement of shohin bonsai at Kokufu, and an equal number of exceptions to these conventions keep the displays interesting.

Shohin display

Shohin display

Japanese black pines, for instance, are usually situated atop the box stands, though sometimes we see Junipers in this spot. Deciduous trees are typically paired with conifers or broadleaf evergreens, and to the side of the box stand we’ll see a tree atop a stand that’s typically taller than it is wide.

Shohin display

Shohin display

Shohin display

Shohin display – black pine on top, good contrast between deciduous and non-deciduous varieties below

And every once in a while we’ll see box stands that feature fewer than five trees. The four-tree box below makes for a wonderful composition.

Shohin display

Shohin display – four-tree box

Japanese flowering quince 'Chojubai'

Japanese Flowering quince ‘Chojubai’

Kinzu

Kinzu

Silverberry

Silverberry

The accents shown with medium and shohin-sized bonsai often provide a surprising amount of interest in a small pot.

Accent

Accent

Other times the accents are simple.

Accent

Accent – fern

White pine

Japanese white pine

Japanese flowering quince 'Chojubai'

Japanese Flowering quince ‘Chojubai’

Japanese maple

Japanese maple

Silverberry

Silverberry

Japanese flowering quince 'Chojubai'

Japanese Flowering quince ‘Chojubai’

And finally, here are some of the box-top pines. With the exception of the tree below, the pots are very similar in style and color. The branches, however, have been developed by quite different means.

Japanese black pine

Shohin Japanese black pine

Japanese black pine

Shohin Japanese black pine

Japanese black pine

Shohin Japanese black pine

Japanese black pine

Shohin Japanese black pine

A final pass through Kokufu coming this Friday.

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The Kokufu-ten tour continues

Posted in Excursions, Exhibits by Jonas Dupuich on April 18, 2014

The Kokufu-ten is known for both the quality of its trees and the quantity. The annual exhibit typically features around 250 bonsai displays. While the large displays contain one tree each, the medium displays typically contain two trees, and the shohin displays include up to 6 small trees – a lot of bonsai under the same roof. In recent decades every 10th exhibit is a double event – two back-to-back exhibits, one right after the other. For some reason this year’s exhibit, the 88th, was also a double event, each featuring 170 displays for a total of over 400 bonsai.

Visitors enter the exhibit on the museum’s ground floor and begin the tour with the larger trees. After visiting two rooms with large trees, visitors take the escalator to the next floor up where they are greeted by the medium displays. After following these around a corner the exhibit concludes with small-sized bonsai. Today we’ll look at some of Kokufu’s medium-sized bonsai.

Medium sized bonsai

Medium sized bonsai at Kokufu #88, part 2

Of special note this year was an entry by Italy’s Bruno Beltrame – a Chinese juniper with a Chinese quince. Beltrame’s juniper was recognized with a Kokufu-sho, or Kokufu Prize – the first time the award went to a non-Japanese exhibitor.

Chinese juniper by Bruno Beltrame -Kokufu prize

Chinese juniper – Kokufu Prize

Chinese quince

Chinese quince – and yes, that’s a bunny riding a doe pursued by a monkey

Here then are some more of the trees one can reasonable be expected to carry on their own.

Japanese white pine

Japanese white pine

Japanese white pine

Japanese white pine

Japanese flowering quince 'Chojubai'

Japanese flowering quince ‘Chojubai’

Zelkova

Zelkova

Japanese white pine

Japanese white pine

Chinese juniper

Chinese juniper

Japanese white pine

Japanese white pine

Dward Star Jasmine

Dwarf star jasmine – Kokufu Prize

Japanese flowering quince 'Chojubai'

Japanese flowering quince ‘Chojubai’

Korean hornbeam

Korean hornbeam

Japanese white pine

Japanese white pine

Japanese maple

Japanese maple

Needle juniper

Needle juniper

Chinese quince

Chinese quince

Chinese juniper

Chinese juniper

Japanese flowering quince 'Boke'

Japanese flowering quince ‘Boke’

Japanese black pine

Japanese black pine

Japanese flowering quince 'Chojubai'

Japanese flowering quince ‘Chojubai’

Trident maple

Trident maple

Japanese flowering quince 'Chojubai'

Japanese flowering quince ‘Chojubai’

Japanese white pine

Japanese white pine

Japanese flowering quince 'Chojubai'

Japanese flowering quince ‘Chojubai’

Tune in next week for more from the Kokufu-ten.

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Post #500 – Kokufu-ten

Posted in Excursions, Exhibits by Jonas Dupuich on April 15, 2014

A little over five years ago I started this blog – and today marks my 500th post. I’ve come a long way since my first post, and I can’t tell you how much I appreciate you all for joining in the fun along the way. Now over 5,000 photos, 2,000 comments, 3,000 followers and a million post-views later, I’d like to share some photos from the world’s most prestigious bonsai exhibit, the Kokufu-ten.

Those of you who have visited the Kokufu-ten, or National Bonsai Exhibit, will recognize the scene below – lots of people vying for a better view of outstanding bonsai.

Kokufu

View from above – Kokufu-ten #88, February 2014

For those of you who have yet to visit the exhibit, I can say that it’s simply a treat. Hundreds of superb trees are on display in the Tokyo Metropolitan Art Museum each February. For details about the event and the best history I know of in English, see the Phoenix Bonsai Society’s articles on the topic starting with, Kokufu Bonsai Ten, Part I.

Enough talk – it’s time for the trees!

Japanese beech

Japanese beech – Kokufu Prize

Chinese juniper

Chinese juniper

Two Americans exhibited bonsai at this year’s Kokufu – Frank Cucchiara and Doug Paul. This year marked Frank’s first entry in Kokufu – Doug first showed bonsai in Kokufu in 2010. Congratulations to you both!

Shinpaku

Chinese juniper and Japanese flowering quince ‘Chojubai’ by Frank Cucchiara

Chinese juniper

Chinese juniper by Doug Paul

Zelkova

Zelkova

Chinese juniper

Chinese juniper

Trident maple

Trident maple

Ezo spruce

Ezo spruce

White pine

Japanese white pine – Kokufu Prize

Japanese maple

Japanese maple

White pine

Japanese white pine

Ezo spruce

Ezo spruce

Japanese beech
Japanese beech

Japanese black pine

Japanese black pine

Chinese quince

Chinese quince

Needle juniper

Needle juniper

Japanese black pine - Kokufu prize

Japanese black pine – Kokufu Prize

White pine

Japanese white pine

Trident maple

Trident maple

Chinese juniper

Chinese juniper

Japanese maple

Japanese maple

Stewartia

Stewartia

Trident maple

Trident maple

Chinese juniper - Kokufu prize

Chinese juniper and trident maple – Kokufu Prize

Thanks for helping Bonsai Tonight reach 500 posts – I couldn’t do this without you!

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Junipers and maples at Nomoto Chinshou-en

Posted in Excursions by Jonas Dupuich on April 11, 2014

Although Daisaku Nomoto is well known for his pine work, he’s also a big fan of junipers and deciduous varieties. Walking through his nursery was a great opportunity to see trees that were well developed next to trees still in the project phase.

Shimpaku

 

Large shimpaku

Shimpaku

 

Shimpaku

Shimpaku

 

Shimpaku with great deadwood

Shimpaku

 

Shimpaku

The tree below was one of my favorite project trees in the garden. I’d be very curious to see it after further refinement.

Shimpaku

 

Project juniper

Shimpaku

 

Trunk detail

A number of the smallest junipers in the garden were fairly well developed. They were also green as they were protected from the cold in a greenhouse for the winter. The outdoor junipers had all taken on the usual brown cast that wears off in Spring.

Shimpaku

 

Shimpaku

Shimpaku

 

Shimpaku

Shimpaku

 

A tree grown by one of Nomoto’s customers – what’s with the pot?

Juniper

 

Shimpaku growing in a wire mesh basket set in a clay pot

Japanese maple

 

A Japanese maple in development

Japanese maple

 

Young Kiyohime maples

Trident maple

 

Trident maple

Trident maple

Trident maple

 

 

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