Ever wonder what it’s like to wander around a world-class bonsai convention held in Japan? It’s pretty great. Everywhere I turned I saw wonderful trees, tools, pots, stands and other bonsai paraphernalia. It was fun to see which trees came from which gardens and how much they cost. And because the quality was so high, it was like wandering, at times, through a giant, disorganized exhibit.
The location didn’t hurt either. The convention was held in Takamatsu, a port city on the north coast of Shikoku facing the Inland Sea. The region is famous for producing pine bonsai, lacquer-ware and udon. Convention events were spread between two adjacent hotels at Sunport Takamatsu.
Many vendors priced their trees on the high side with the expectation that some bargaining would precede the sales. This was particularly true for the more expensive trees. Less expensive items tended to sell closer to their posted prices.
Some people held off their purchases toward the end of the event in hopes of getting a better price. I tended to get what I could while it was still available. At one point I found a box of Kokufu books beneath a sales table – oh boy! In the time it took me to pick up half of the books, another convention-goer grabbed the other half.
By the end of the event, I had filled my bags with pots, tools, books and little quince slabs for displaying accent plants. It was the unpurchased trees, however, that left the greatest impression. What fun it would be to bring some of them home!
Takayuki Fukushima’s table
Junichiro Tanaka and Ken Fujiwara’s table
Peter Warren at Kunio Kobayashi’s sales tables
Antique root stand – likely priced well over $10,000
Little red and blue pots
Half of the vendors were situated in a tent right on the Inland Sea. The selection inside was great.
Detached vendor area
Trees for sale
Junipers for sale
One vendor filled two tables with nothing but shimpaku. They ranged from rough material to Important Bonsai Masterpieces.
Shimpaku – $1,800
Shimpaku – $1,800
Shimpaku – $21,600
Shimpaku, Important Bonsai Masterpiece – no price listed
The quality really was amazing. Although S-CUBE set the high bar in terms of quality, many vendors offered outstanding trees.
Small deciduous tree in Koyo pot
Assorted deciduous trees
Red princess persimmon – $190
A word about princess persimmons – although they look delicious, the experience of eating them is far from enjoyable. Like any unripe persimmon, princess persimmons are very astringent. So much so that after tasting one, my mouth wasn’t the same for a whole week. Has anyone else given these a try?
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