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.
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 – Kokufu Prize
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!
Chinese juniper and Japanese flowering quince ‘Chojubai’ by Frank Cucchiara
Chinese juniper by Doug Paul
Japanese white pine – Kokufu Prize
Japanese white pine
Japanese black pine
Japanese black pine – Kokufu Prize
Japanese white pine
Chinese juniper and trident maple – Kokufu Prize
Thanks for helping Bonsai Tonight reach 500 posts – I couldn’t do this without you!
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 with great deadwood
The tree below was one of my favorite project trees in the garden. I’d be very curious to see it after further refinement.
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.
A tree grown by one of Nomoto’s customers – what’s with the pot?
Shimpaku growing in a wire mesh basket set in a clay pot
A Japanese maple in development
Young Kiyohime maples
Tsutomu Nomoto started Nomoto Chinshou-en on his birthday in 1973. Bonsai had been a family hobby for several generations but it wasn’t until Tsutomu turned away from veterinary medicine – the default line of work for his family – that the hobby became a business. Tsutomu studied at Nakanishi Chinshou-en in Shikoku’s Kinashi bonsai district (more at “Nakanishi Chinshoen“). Following his apprenticeship, Tsutomu returned to his native Miyazaki and opened Nomoto Chinshou-en.
What a tidy nursery!
I first learned about Nomoto Chinshou-en from Tsutomu’s son, Daisaku. Daisaku was one of Boon Manakitivipart’s senpai at Aichi prefecture’s Kihachi-en. Today Daisaku runs the family business with his father. Here’s some of Daisaku’s work.
Root over rock chojubai
Exposed root chojubai
Exposed root white pine
Informal upright white pine
White pine with hollow trunk
Exposed root cascade white pine
Inside the nursery’s workshop is a single tokonoma. It was filled, the day I visited, with a needle juniper, scroll and accent.
In addition to the nursery’s many pines and chojubai were a variety of other trees.
More on the nursery’s junipers this Friday.
For those curious about my visits to so many Kyushu bonsai gardens, the answer is simple – Daisaku Nomoto. In addition to hosting the Kyushu portion of my recent visit to Japan, long-time friend and teacher Nomoto designed an itinerary to suit my interest in developing bonsai from scratch. So instead of visiting some of the top collections in the area, we focused on a handful of the more interesting gardens where I could see development techniques up close and ask whatever questions came to mind. This very thoughtful planning made for a outstanding visit – for this, thank you Daisaku!
Of course, many of these visits focused on techniques for developing black pine bonsai. Nomoto, who apprenticed with Kihachiro Kamiya, is well-known for his pine work. Here are some of the black pines at his Miyazaki nursery, Nomoto Chinshou-en.
Daisaku Nomoto with a cascade black pine at Nomoto Chinshou-en
It was fun to see the pines in Nomoto’s nursery after visiting so many different pine growers. Many of these pines were still under development, though most were further along than the trees we’d seen elsewhere.
Young black pine
The pines ranged from big to small, including a number of shohin.
Shohin black pine
Shohin black pine
Shohin black pine
Small black pine
Medium-sized black pine
Large black pine
There were also a number of pine projects, including grafted cork bark and Kotobuki black pines.
Cork bark pine
Young Kotobuki black pine
Exposed root black pine
As is typical of nurseries belonging to bonsai professions, many of the better pines in the garden belonged to Nomoto’s customers. With the rest, Nomoto is free to do as he wishes. And as there’s never enough time to give every tree one’s full attention, even the brief tour of the nursery provided Nomoto time to reflect about future plans for a number of the trees in his garden, including the interesting pine below.
Nomoto considers a pine’s future
In addition to black pines, Nomoto Chinshou-en was full of different varieties – more on these next week.