Most bonsai exhibits in Japan provide enthusiasts the opportunity to show off and receive credit for their trees. One exhibit, the Sakafu-ten, provides bonsai professionals direct recognition for their work. As such, Sakufu-ten prizes are valued highly by many professionals. And unlike the multiple Kokufu prizes awarded every year, there is only one grand prize awarded at each Sakufu-ten.
Professionals submit their trees for judging in Fall and learn who the winners are soon after. The trees are photographed at this time as well. A month or two later, the trees return to Tokyo in December for the exhibit.
Last year’s exhibit was held on the first weekend of December at the Green Club in Ueno, home to the massive sales area during the Kokufu exhibit in February. The exhibit occupies the first two floors of the Green Club. A related exhibit is held on the third floor that consists solely of Important Bonsai Masterpieces. Outside the Green Club, vendors offer the usual variety of trees, pots, tools and the like.
Sakufu-ten sales area
Trees for sale – nice gardenias
The S-CUBE sales area
Cryptomeria for sale – 15万 (almost $2,000)
An award ceremony for prize winners is held on Saturday after the exhibit closes for the day. Most attendees were bonsai professionals in town for the exhibit.
2011 Sakufu-ten award ceremony
The top award is for best overall tree. By convention, this tree is a large conifer. The 2011 award went to Minoru Akiyama. Akiyama, who studied with Kunio Kobayashi at Shunka-en, was very excited to win the award.
Shinji Suzuki and impromptu hostesses supply flowers and a certificate to Minoru Akiyama
The award for large conifer is generally considered to be the number two prize at the event. The 2011 award for large conifer went to Junichiro Tanaka for a cascade white pine. Peter Tea provides a great write-up about preparing the tree for exhibit in “An Old Five Needle Pine Goes to Show.”
Junichiro Tanaka – 2011 winner, large conifer (white pine)
The number three prize is for best large deciduous tree. The 2011 award went to Takayuki Fukushima. Like Tanaka, Fukushima is a graduate of Daiju-en.
Takayuki Fukushima – 2011 winner, large deciduous bonsai (silverberry)
About nine prizes were awarded during the ceremony. The final prize went to Akio Kondo for a root over rock trident maple.
Akio Kondo – 2011 winner, Nippon Bonsai Association Award
I’ll share photos of the trees on display later this week.
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