The Kinashi Bonsai District is the source of many different bonsai varieties, but by far most trees from this region are black, red, and white pines. Each of these varieties are typically grown here in pure “river sand.” Warmer winters and hot muggy summers make river sand the perfect medium for pines in the region.
The growers tend to develop trunks in the ground, then dig the trees to develop the branches. Given enough time, some fun trees result.
Exposed root pines
At each nursery, I asked the proprietor if he or she had pine seeds for sale. The first time I heard yes, I was led to the back reaches of the property where said seeds were kept in a workshop. I’ve been growing some of these seeds for almost a year now – a small reminder of Shikoku in my own backyard.
Flats and pots by the workshop
Wandering through the nursery-ridden neighborhood offered views of different approaches to growing pines. Some plots were tidy, others rangy, others seemingly abandoned. With the price of rough pines as low as it is in Japan today, it can cost more to dig and care for a tree than one can make selling it.
Mini bonsai forest
Some not-so-healthy cork bark pines
More less-than-healthy cork bark pines
Pines in need of a haircut
At the Kinashi bonsai center, several nurseries had trees for sale, including some new varieties. The senzyumaru black pine below had tinier foliage than kotobuki yet the variety grew more vigorously. Here’s the oldest of the batch.
Behind one of the growers, the proprietor’s son – one of the convention headliners – maintained a fabulous collection of shohin bonsai.
Shohin exposed root black pine
Young black pines
Japanese pepper tree
Back outside, it was all pines again.
Rangy black pines
Well kept pines
Many well-kept black pines
I finished the afternoon at a nursery near the start of my tour. It was famous for a black pine with extraordinary branches. Seriously extra-ordinary.