This year’s US National Bonsai Exhibition included a special treat for suiseki enthusiasts – the Invitational Suiseki Exhibition. Fifty stones from around the world were displayed with accents and bonsai.
It was quite a bonus to see such great stones so well displayed.
Three-point suiseki display
Daiza by John Naka
Formal display with scroll
The stone on a pillow
Each stone warranted attention for its shape, color and texture.
One of the remarkable aspects of the Japan Suiseki Exhibition is that all of the stones on display were from Japan. This included a number of stones of Japanese origin that returned to Japan for the exhibition. The contributors included some of the better known suiseki enthusiasts outside of Japan – people who have worked hard to promote the art and have contributed greatly to its popularity around the world.
Kamuikotan ishi, “Homeland” – Hideko Metaxas
Sajigawa ishi – Larry and Nina Ragle
Kamogawa beninagashi ishi – Martin Pauli
Tamagawa ishi – William N. Valavanis
Setagawa ishi – Tom Elias
Seigaku ishi – stone and outstanding daiza by Sean L. Smith
Chikuzen maguro ishi – Wil
Touring the exhibit was a treat – I feel lucky to have seen so many great stones in a single venue, and it was great to feel the excitement that was shared by suiseki veterans and casual visitors alike. The event makes it easy to understand the appeal of collecting beautiful and interesting stones. It also makes me excited about future such events.
Neo kikka seki
In addition to stones, the exhibit featured suiseki accessories including figures, scrolls, suiban, doban, and display stands. Their inclusion was a great addition to the exhibit as it gave visitors the opportunity to focus on important suiseki display elements that can be easily overlooked when paired with outstanding stones.
Doban by Harada Houn
On February 9th, 2014, the Tokyo Metropolitan Art Museum opened its doors to an historic event – the Japan Suiseki Exhibition. Produced by the Nippon Suiseki Association, the event featured some of Japan’s best-known viewing stones and accessories. Highlights included suiseki that had rarely left their homes in temples or private collections such as Kurokamiyama or “Black Hair Mountain.” This spectacular stone was displayed with its case – which doubles as a daiza – and handscrolls completed in 1812 that describe its origins. (For great photos of Kurokamiyama, the handscrolls and all of the other stones on display, find a copy of the Exhibit book. If you know where it can be purchased, feel free to post links in the comments.)
Recently under the leadership of Chairman Kunio Kobayashi and Chief Administrator Seiji Morimae, the reinvigorated Association is enjoying the success of the exhibit and is looking forward to future events. Helping coordinate this year’s exhibit – and providing English translations for the book – is suiseki aficionado Wil from Japan. On the afternoon I visited, Wil shared some of his favorite entries and described the excitement within the organization and broader community about the event. It was a great orientation to a super event – for this, thank you Wil!
In all, the exhibit featured 4 Special Entries, 28 Tokonoma Displays, 137 General Exhibits, and 15 Suiseki Accessories including suiban, doban, and display stands. Here are some of the stones on display.
Batei ishi – “Dragon Gate”
Aka tanba ishi – the calligraphy reads, “Clouds free from obstructive thoughts”
Yase sudachi maguro ishi – “Wormwood Patch” – night-scene scroll by Yamaguchi Houshun
Furuya ishi – “Hazy Passage of the Immortals”
Hakkaizan seki – “Moon Crossing Ravine”
Visitors appreciating the General Exhibits
Neo kikka seki
A seated figure, or figures, arranged face to face. Such a suggestion came to this stone’s owner and the idea stuck, earning it the name, “Chat.” Chat was recently on display along with scores of other impressive suiseki at a historical event held in Tokyo this past February. Details to follow.
“Chat” – Yase sudachi maguro ishi – 22cm