A very special small-sized bonsai display at the 4th US National Bonsai Exhibition featured the work of Tsukinowa Yusen. Yusen pots are precious – a display comprised solely of trees in Yusen pots is a rare thing. The composition was beautiful.
Shohin bonsai display in Yusen pots
Porcelain berry and accent
From the top – red pine, little gem dwarf spruce, shimpaku, Japanese flowering quince ‘chojubai’
The curator’s note provided good context and history:
Tsukinowa Yusen – 月之輪湧泉
1908 – 1998
Kato Goichi (加藤護) or better known to bonsai pot collectors as Tsukinowa Yusen lived from 1908 to 1998. He lived in Tagimi-city of Gifu Prefecture and was a gifted painter having studied in Kyoto.
His profession was that of a ceramics painter but unrelated to bonsai. In 1960-61 he started to make pottery for himslef and as he gained an interest in bonsai he began to hand paint his own pots.
Sometime around 1971-74 he lived with Sei-fu Yohei and developed a partnership where Yusen would make the ceramics and Sei-fu would peint them. Sei-fu didn’t always bare his signature on Yusen pots but his painting style is different and recognizable.
Yusen normally created small porcelain pots which he painted red, blue or a mix of colors. Infrequently he would glaze his pots with a yellow frame but this is quite rare. Before Yusen there were almost no painted bonsai pots in Japan.
One of Yusen’s famous series of pots is his version of Ando’s “53 Stations of the Tokaido Road.” Other well-known motifs include the famous anthropomorphic animals, mountain landscape scenes, water scenes featuring birds, pictorial scenes of famous poetry and even one with bats!
Without question, Yusen’s pots rank the highest in terms of hand-painted pots. They are highly valued in and beyond Japan. To own one is a treasure, to own more than one is considered a highly valuable collection of the best hand painted bonsai pots in the world.
Here are some close-ups.
Pine and mountain – Yusen
On a boat – Yusen
Birds – Yusen
Mantis – Yusen
Nature scene – Yusen
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