Nihon de Hajimete, Part 10: Pottery and Display Journal Part 1

Today we’ll take a look at the pottery and stands we saw in Japan. This post would be way too photo heavy as a single, so I’ll be splitting it up into 3 parts. Hopefully it won’t take too long to load for you that way!
Now, on to the pots!
Shofuen

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A nice Antique Chinese yellow antique mirror shape, and other pots in the display case.

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A nice Haruyoshi, that eventually made its way to Canada.
Yamatoen

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A really nice blue. The maker is Heian Ado, and it is a Miyabi pot.

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A pair of world class Tofukuji rectangles.

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The top is a second generation Shukuho, the bottom is one of the most impressively glazed Heian Kouzan I’ve seen.

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Matched pair of Tofukuji.

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The rectangle blue and square green are Tofukuji. The painted pot in the lower right is Tsukinowa Shousen, Yusen’s grandson.
Koju En
As I mentioned before, we were quite in luck with the day we visited Koju En, as Masumi San had just purchased a large collection of world class pieces. Koju En has some of the best of the best pottery on normal days, the additional pieces were a bonus treat!

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Tsukinowa Yusens and other specimen rarities.

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Tsukinowa Yusen.

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Some of the pots from the purchased collection. Almost all of these are Tofukuji. There are also a couple of unpainted porcelain Yusen, an Aiso, a Seifu Yohei…
Note the fantastically glazed blue Tofukuji in the back with the plaque….

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Which came back to the US to the collection of Matt Ouwinga of Kaede Bonsai En! This pot is featured in the Tofukuji Book, and is a Miyabi pot. Miyabi pots and bonsai are the equivalent of Kichou bonsai, for shohin. Basically, it means they are recognized cultural treasures of Shohin Bonsai and pots. Every year, at the Gafu Ten, around 15 bonsai and pots are chosen, and featured in the last few pages of the albums. The first 30 years are collected in the album “Miyabi”, and features 1-384. This pot was recognized at the 31st Gafu Ten, and is numbered 385.

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From the other 3 sides and the bottom. Wonderfully unique, and wonderfully representative of the best glaze work of Tofukuji. By a longshot, this is the best Tofukuji in the United States!

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Another Miyabi pot, a painted Tofukuji. The plaques are mismatched on these in the photos, this is actually number 405.

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A couple of Heian Kouzan. The left is pre war, the right later. I hadn’t quite got the grips of numeration when I saw these…almost tried to snap up the Left before I was told it was 35man, not 3man 5 sen!(that’s 3500$ versus 350$!)

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Sansyu Ichiyo mini Suiban.

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A few specimen pots atop Kiri Bako. Ichiyo mostly.

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Some nice looking displays.

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A veritable sea of Takao Koyo pots.

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Heian Kouzan, Kouso(post 1972 Kouzan) and Gekkou.

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The painted Kouzan above. Super nice detail and patina.

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Specimen pots from the purchased collection cover every surface, even the floor!

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No idea on the maker, but this apricot skin glaze is interesting.

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Terebineri Tofukuji.

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Riveted Drum Tofukuji.

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Small blue glazed hand formed Tofukuji.

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Small hand formed unglazed Tofukuji.

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Footed blue green rectangle Tofukuji.

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A medium size round Tofukuji with characteristic feet.

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Cream glazed oval Tofukuji with an exceptional patina.

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A pair of very thick walled unglazed Tofukuji. These are a unique matched pair!

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While Matt Ouwinga walked away with a few more specimen pots from Koju En(no need for me to gloat by proxy), he also picked up this really cool unglazed banded oval. The pot itself isn’t exceptional, but in the interior are the 7 major stamps used by Tofukuji. Masumi San told us that he was drunk when he made it!(Tofukuji lived fairly close to Koju En, so Masumi Sans’ father knew him fairly well).
Yamatoen

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Syuzan!!

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A nice old shohin footed rectangle. Looks to be antique Chinese.

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Pots!

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Antique cream glazed rectangle.

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Tofukuji

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Pair of Chinese antiques, Ro-Kinyo(blue with white flecks) and yellow.

Thanks for reading! Up next, we’ll take a look at the pottery from The other nurseries we visited, then see what I brought I home(which doesn’t compare to most of these, unfortunately!), and wrap my impressions up of What I saw of Bonsai in Japan in a short essay.

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Nihon de Hajimete, Part 9: S-Cube and Yorozuen

In today’s post, we visit the wonderful and well provisioned big-box-bonsai-store that is Seiji Morimae’s S-Cube(pun definitely intended and apologized for), then we visit the well-known-in-the-West mecca of Shohin and pottery, Yorozuen, where my friend Toriumi Atsuishi meets us with a surprise.
S-Cube
S-Cube, the garden and sales area of Seiji Morimae, is truly an incredible place. From Stones, to pots both inexpensive and antique, small and immense, to trees of every size and quality level, Morimae San has something for everyone. He’s truly an erudite and interesting fellow, to boot, and well worth your taking the time for a chat. Absent that, pick up his book “A Dialogue with Bonsai”, it’s an interesting read about the spiritual, emotional, and intellectual side of bonsai, I thoroughly enjoyed it.

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Morimae San takes the time to explain the ceremonial tea house and it’s origins, and the position and design of the gardens according to energy flow and feng shui. Really cool stuff. Note the path leading to the door of the tea house, the Kurama stone “boat” sailing across the “sea”, and the incrediblly old pillars holding the bonsai.
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A very cool and old stone piece. Note the sun and the moon inset in the pool at differing levels, and the same symbols repeated on the path stone.
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Inside, a famous bonsai that died is given honor and place of respect.
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My good buddy Matt Ouwinga poses with two massive Kaede.
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Incredible and Massive Kaede.
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Incredible and massive Kaede number 2. I measured, but this wouldn’t fit in my suitcase. ;-p
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In the receiving room, a tokonoma display of cascading willow, scroll, and accent conveys a much needed cooling impression.
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Some large and impressive Goyomatsu.
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A really lovely slanting Momiji.
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Momiji in what appears to be a Shukuho pot.
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Elegant composition of Kaede with a lovely green oval tray.
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An impressive and unpublished Shimpaku. While most bonsai are very inexpensive compared to America, this is what upper range 5 figures buys in Japan.
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A Fantastic Shimpaku with great looking deadwood.
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A really impressive semi cascade Tosho. Drool….
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Awesome GoyoMatsu in the Front garden.
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Chojubai! It’s tough to understand why some guys swear by them until you see them in person! Look at that bark! Drool…again….
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Literati Akamatsu
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Karin in a Canton style blue, and the trunk of a raw white pine with supa bad Sabamiki and Uro.
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Interesting and well refined Kan-Gumi(Eleagnus)
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Massive based trident maple. This is the back.
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An interesting root over rock hornbeam.
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Elegant multi-trunk clump style shishigashira.
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Base detail.
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Root over rock Kaede in a fantastic yellow bag pot showing some excellent patina. If you’re ever in Japan, take lots of pictures. Everything is so mind numbingly impressive that, often, you don’t even notice details like this pot until you look at your own photos later!
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Great looking Momiji in development. I’m referring to the rear tree, but the front one is nice too…pretty sure I meant to photograph the back one though.
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Impressive hinoki forest planting. Note the placard.
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Another nice looking root over rock Kaede.
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Really nice. Not 100% on the species, so I’ll leave it a mystery. Styrax?
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Elegant and massively based Momiji. I love the unique cascading branch.
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Tall and elegant Momiji. It’s impressive to note that I didn’t really see any Japanese maples that DIDNT have wonderful bases!
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Triple trunk Momiji, with a more palatable nebari to those westerners who hate on the pancake.
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Kaede group on stone.
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Big and nice Sanzashi(hawthorn) showing some fruit.
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Big black pine showing some nice bark.
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Cryptomeria
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Black pine root over rock. Very nice, but I personally feel the crown is too big.
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Old GoyoMatsu in the sinuous root, raft, or Netsuranari style.
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Big boy black pine with the contemporary helmet crown. I’d like to see it opened up a bit to see the trunk.
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Interesting double trunk pine.
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A long line o’ pine.
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White pine with interesting sabamiki.
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A truly modern composition. You don’t see much like this. Non traditional and modern, yet still with a very Japanese feel.
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It was tough to get a good angle on this tree, but I thought the ten-jin was interesting.
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Tall elegance in a multitrunk maple.
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Slanting triple trunk white pine.
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Mimosa! Damn weeds here in the American south. While I didn’t see any true specimens of the species, it must be possible if the Japanese are taking the time t’all. Get out there and get native Southerners!
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Cascade maple chuhin.
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Literati hop hornbeam.
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Another thin trunked Bunjin Japanese Hornbeam.
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Big Momiji.
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Momiji…look at all them chicken foots…
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Big Kaede with a nice base and slow taper. Love this….
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Rhus. I love these. As a species, they’re the antithesis of “sumo” style.
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Princess persimmon with immature fruit and significant deadwood….the file isn’t large enough to read the tag. For the most part, I made sure of that, because I’m not here to depress you. This one time though…it’s 18,000Â¥. $180….
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Chojubai shohin! I only have one nice one of this species, I wish I had a dozen more.
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Big pine. Probably yamadori, very long needle variety.
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Bunjin pines.
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More Bunjin-ji pine stock.

The Mark Section
I promised P.B. Mark I’d try and snap some hinoki pics when I could. Here are a few that were at S-Cube, man. Don’t say I never did nothing for you, and keep me in mind next time I’m wanting some stock. 😉
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And we’ll finish up this look at S-Cube with this simple but nice looking Squirrels foot fern. I thought I was doing something wrong, because mine wouldn’t develop the characteristic “feet”. I thought maybe it just took a long time. Informed at this shot that it happens quite quickly….wonder what kind of ferns I bought that we’re labelled “Squirrels foot”?
We’ll be back to visit S-Cube in the pottery post, for now, we’re back to Saitama and
Yorozuen.
I’m sure you’re all familiar with “The Yo” by now. Fukano San and Yorozuen have a significant western presence on eBay and Facebook, as do several of the Deshi(former and current) like Aya Tsuzuki and Toriumi Atsuishi. For those of you not familiar with Yorozuen, they’re one of the top nurseries in Japan specializing in shohin. I won’t say how high they rank, but it’s certainly in the top third of the best 3 or so. 😉
When we arrived at Yorozuen, my friend Toriumi San had a surprise waiting for us. I knew he had some associates at “Bonsai Sekai” magazine, and has written articles for them in the past(see
Bonsai Sekai Articles
For more on this. It seems he’d brought a journalist from the magazine to interview us and document our tour. Cool stuff, thanks Toriumi! I look forward to the article, but not really seeing myself in it. I suffered a serious eye injury last year(nothing fun about eye pain and cornea scarring, and detached retinas, I can tell you that!) and every now and again, when it gets irritated, it’s horrifyingly painful and nothing pretty to look at, either. I’ll be the guy in the group photos in Bonsai Sekai wiping away tears from a blood red eyeball! Click:
Group Photo
And See? I’m the dude in the blue dickies shirt who looks like he’s in pain, with the squinty left eye(it’s actually MY right). Just my luck, a magazine article with photos on the one day in 3 months that my eye kicks me in the nuts. Anyway, Moving on… here are some trees.
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I didnt space the pictures so you get the idea that It’s just seas and seas and seas of top shelf Shohin and Chuhin bonsai at Yorozuen. Then you go upstairs, and discover great lakes of more incredible trees. Bear in mind that I’m in a great deal of pain here, and cannot see. So, well, you’re welcome. 😉
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Ball-achingly-badass Chuhin Ume.
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A very impressive Taiwanese Boxwood. Man, we need some of these thick ridging bark varieties here. They’re so much better than the landscape varieties typically seen as bonsai in the States. There are couple of leaf varieties I’ve seen in Japan as well, one with leaves that are very thin and narrow, proportionate and similar to F.Nerifolia.
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Hornbeam in a well-patinated bag pot.
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Shishigashira shohin like these turn me into Homer Simpson “Mmmmmm…..Maple…”
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Momiji
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Broom Zelkova
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Kifu Bunjin Akamatsu
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Momiji
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Semi-cascade Iwashide
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Osteomeles. These used to annoy me, but they’ve grown on me, and now I love them. I only have two nice ones, it’d be nice to see more stock being produced in the US; they produce attractive fruit and have cool pinnate leaves unlike any of the other species coming out of Florida and the subtropical US. It’s an 8 or higher species. Get to it people!(and while you’re at it, start some wild Kumquat seed).
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Tall and elegant Iwashide. Virtually Scarless. Gorgeous.
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Shishigashira!
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Sekka Hinoki in a fascinatingly odd pot choice.
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Cascade Gardenia.
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Tosho!
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Chojubai with a very rare basal flare. Drool…
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Larger Chuhin Ume
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Crepe Myrtle.
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Mark, perhaps some of your grafting projects should target this type of thing….Chuhin Hinoki showing some really nice refinement and a massive trunk.
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Chuhin Kaede
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Shishigashira.
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A shishigashira in development….thats a lot of root grafts.
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Yet another Lions mane maple. I Never tire of these.
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Nejikan Pomegranate.
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A crepe myrtle so ramified, I can’t tell what’s going on underneath. Let’s have a closer look:
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Front and back. Drool….Homer like Crepe….
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Nejikan Pomegranate.
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White pine ishizuke, and a sea of shohin pines to the rear.
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Nice Nioi Kaede(stinky maple, Premna Japonica). Love this species.
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Crepe Myrtle. I refuse to hide my affection for these southern staples.

If you couldn’t tell from the overview pictures, there was so, so much more at Yorozuen worth a picture. In fact, there was an entire other nursery, the Yorozuen Annex, with near as many trees, most in development; unfortunately, between being half blind and drop dead tired, this was all I could manage. Except for the pot photos, of course. I managed those just fine.
We’ll look at them in the next post:
Pottery Journal
In addition to all the other containers we viewed, and the ones we brought home 🙂
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Fukano San is well acquainted with our tastes. We’d barely sat before Several boxes of Tofukuji were brought in from the back. Here, Matt Ouwinga unwraps a world class specimen. Well over hundred Tofukuji in the boxes visible to the left. Stay tuned, and thanks for reading.

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Nihon de Hajimete, Part 8: Kimura’s Garden

In today’s episode, we visit the garden of legendary artist Masahiko Kimura. It was interesting seeing the bonsai I had seen and admired(as have all of you) in magazines and books, through the years. The garden is immaculate to the point of sterility, with nary a weed or blade of grass out of place.

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On a the wall in the receiving room(a boardroom-esque affair standing in stark contrast to the living room environment at other Nurseries), photos of trees receiving major awards stretch into the distance.
Junipers

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One of Kimura San’s famous Junipers. If memory serves, I think this Is one where the ten-Jin are actually roots, the tree itself flipped entirely upside down by partially separating the live vein from existing deadwood.

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Some close ups of the deadwood.

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Another famous Juniper. This surprised me. I’d never considered it before, but the foliage is actually quite coarse. I do believe it’s the original Tohaku foliage, pale green and coarse, nothing at all like the tight, bright, and vibrant Kishu and Itoigawa.

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Deadwood Detail.

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An impressively massive and well refined Shimpaku. You can see from the foliage in comparison with the bonsai above the difference.

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A sinuous, twisty Shimpaku. Well refined, like everything in the “public” area of Kimura San’s garden.

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Cascade Shinpaku.

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With live veins to either side of the Shari, and the great appearance of taper, this bonsai presents a different type of power than the super twisty Junipers with massive deadwood above.

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Cascade Shinpaku

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Shohin

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Fascinating movement and deadwood.

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Elegant, smaller Shimpaku.

Pines

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Massive and highly refined Black Pine.

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Great and classical.

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A massive and famous Pine. In all honesty, this beast is unreal in in person. Bark so thick you could hide a small child in the ridges and fissures!

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Nice medium semi cascade pine showing some subtle Shari near the Base. You can definitely tell the season from these photos: the secondary flush of candles peeking through the growth puts us in the dead middle of summer.

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An interesting and elegant red pine, with very nice movement.

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Big black pine in development. The use of rebar and bamboo as guy anchors is interesting.

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another large, but elegantly powerful pine. The subtle and thin vein of sabamiki running from the base provides nice character and interest.

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Amazingly thick, ridged bark!

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Elegant and graceful Bunjin Goyomatsu. Mochikomi!

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In contrast with the elegant Bunjin, a stout and powerful semi cascade black pine.

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Famous and beautiful Goyomatsu, with a significant sabamiki and great deadwood. Refined, elegant, and feminine, yet powerful: a study in contrast.

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Sabamiki detail.

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A fascinatingly unique Yamadori pine with incredible movement and significant hollows. A real stunner!
Bark Details

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Ishizuke(Rock Plantings)
While Kimura is mostly renowned for his fantastic and modern Junipers and bold Pines, I find his rock plantings to be my favorites of his work. Here they are in all their stunning character. Like all bonsai, photos don’t do these justice!

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Rock Plantings of Shimpaku.

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A unique and famous rock planting of Hinoki cypress, composed of two stones which fit together in a valley shape.

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Detail of accents at the joint of the two stones.

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Rock planting of Shimpaku, on a boat shaped Kurama stone turned on its side. The effect of a near view sheer cliff face is well presented.

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Not really a rock planting, but similar. GoyoMatsu planted in deadwood.

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Famous single tree rock planting of Shimpaku, on a carved stone. How many others remember being stunned and amazed by the article detailing the stone’s creation and the planting? I do!

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Taller Rock plantings and various large Chuhin bonsai.

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Tall peak style Rock planting of Shimpaku. Interesting to note that the trees’ placement, relative lengths, style, and the taper of the stone to an apical trees all fit the classical standard proportions for a classical bonsai, with the stone as trunk.

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Peak style Shimpaku rock planting.

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An interesting sloping hinoki cypress rock planting. In some of Kimura’s Ishizuke, the lines are blurred between Yose Ue and Ishizuke.

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A five tree Ishizuke. At first glance, I thought this was 3 trees, but on closer inspection, I think the top is actually 3 rather mediocre Shimpaku planted in such a way to appear as one. This is one of the things about Rock plantings that appeals to me: the material itself is often rather mediocre, it’s the style, design, and placement with a great stone that makes a masterpiece, not just incredible material.

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Tall and impressive peak style Ishizuke.

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Shimpaku Ishizuke

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Another unique piece. Flat Slabs of stone cemented together and planted with hinoki. That’s Neil Dellinger and his much-nicer-than-than-my-iPhone camera. I néed to have a look at some of those pics!
Various

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Hinoki cypress forest. The tiny trees create a very realistic depth.

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Ezo Spruce forest.

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Shitakusa

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Shitakusa

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Detail of bark on Chojubai.

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Fantastic Bonsai!

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And we’ll finish up our visit to Mr. Kimura’s garden with some shots of his prized Koi, which are lovely….and….prized North American painted turtles? Odd man.

Thanks for reading!(and thanks again ro Peter for braving this episode) 😉
Up next, we visit Morimae San and his awesome one-stop-shopping-bonsai big box, S-Cube, and a visit to Fukano San and the western-well-known Yorozuen! Stay Tuned!

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Up Next: S-Cube!

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Nihon de Hajimete, Part 7: Shunkaen and Akiyama San

Next up we visited Akiyama San, followed by Shunkaen and Kobayashi San. Both were great visits! Akiyama San was Peter’s Sempai at Shunkaen, so trips to both nurseries were comfortable and relaxed. I’m sure many of you got to meet and work with Akiyama San at his during his visit to the Mid Atlantic earlier this year.
Akiyama San

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The entrance to the Nursery

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Super nice, award winning Shimpaku. Fantastic pot match and highly refined.

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Ume

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Momiji

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A massive Momiji

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Various, Beeches, Ginko, and Zelcova

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A massive yamadori juniper in development with foliage grafts. The deadwood on this is simply amazing!

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Elegant, but powerful, White pine

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White pines. Note the foliage differences.

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Various bonsai stretching away into the distance.

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Super nice chuhin Tosho

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Japanese Yew, Taxus Cuspidata

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Japanese Yew, Taxus Cuspidata

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Yew? I’m not sure, but I think some of these may be Hemlock.

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More Yew!

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Ezo Spruce.

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Large and fantastic Yamadori

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Nice Shohin Shimpaku

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Really great Shishigashira maple in an Ikkou pot.

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The back of Akayama Sans famous Shimpaku

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Some really spectacular deadwood Shimpaku

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Large Osteomeles.

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Some great deadwood on a Yew.

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Seas of world class Shimpaku

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Yamadori Shimpaku in development.

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Pines in development

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A sea of Ume.

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The rooftop garden, with row after Row of beeches in development in styrofoam boxes.

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Ume

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Massive maple in old Canton pot.

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A bunch of Chojubai Ishizuke in development.

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Chojubai Ishizuke

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Tall elegant upright Kaede

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Shohin!

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Incredible Deadwood!!!

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And, we’ll finish up our visit to Akiyama San with this simple Hosta in a very nice Kutani pot
Shunkaen
Of course, I couldn’t wait to see Shunkaen, and Kobayashi San is known the world over. Peter was very gracious in giving us the Deshi tour, explanation of Display and formality, and being an all around good bloke.

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The Entrance to the Shunkaen garden and museum(and that’s Neil Dellinger you can see walking in).

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Rows upon rows of Momiji. As I understand it, most of these were added to the nursery in the last year.

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Huge Momiji in development

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Awesome Kaede on Stone, Large Chojubai, and Satsuki

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Elegant, and massive, multi trunk Momiji

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Famous Chojubai Root over Rock

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Elegant Momiji. You’ll not the hanging bags. These are to keep away the dreaded Asian Long Horned Beetle, a borer whose larvae can cause significant damage, and is the #1 reason it’s so difficult to bring bonsai home. They’ve been a problem at the nursery in the past, and small areas of cut paste at the base of many maples is remaining evidence of their past destructive presence.

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Big Root over Rock Kaede

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Massive Kaede

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Big Satsuki with stone

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A few more shots of great Maples. The massive Arakawa and Shishigashira are personal favorites.

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Some Root over Kaede.

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Massive and very refined Karin(Chinese Quince). The exfoliating bark on this species is one of of my favorite features of any species.

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A large old Broom Zelcova

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Big Shimpaku, an the back exit. If you look to the right, I’ve mysteriously appeared in my own photo. That’s me in the Black Flag shirt 😉

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Fascinating Jin on collected pine

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Cascade Ume

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Satsuki

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Big boy Eleagnus

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The Back Garden

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The back garden from the side

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Some more views of the rear garden

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Mr. Saruyama explains principles of display formality and style.

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The new pond.

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From the opposite side, the new pond.

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Kobayashi San gives us a show with the koi. They are trained to respond to Mr. Kobayashi clapping, and swim up for food. I’ve rarely seen anyone so joyous feeding fish! Mr. Kobayashi’s enthusiasm for many things is infectious!

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Osteomeles.

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Massive Satsuki with a towel to protect the roots an lower trunk from direct sun.

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Excellent Hawthorn.
Pines
While Mr. Kobayashi is famous for many things(Satsuki, Pottery Collecting, Suiseki), he is perhaps most famous in the west for his pines.

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The center Garden with massive Pines in a ring.

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Massive Pines.

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Slanting Kuromatsu

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More big boy pines.

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Elegant Cascade Pine

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Root over rock black pine. If you look close, you can see gaps between the stone and roots have been filled with cement.

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Bark!!!

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Bark and natural appearing Jin on a large pine.

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Massive Black Pines.

We’ll return to Shunkaen, in the last two posts, for a closer look at a couple of those big pines, and some detail shots of a few species, and, then, of course, to look at the Pottery at the museum.

Thanks for reading! Up next, we visit Mr. Kimura, Stay Tuned!

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Nihon de Hajimete, Part 6: Shinji Suzuki and Shoujuen

The next morning saw us bright and early at Shinji Suzuki’s wonderful garden. Everything about Mr. Suzuki’s garden spoke of taste and refinement, from the trees, to the garden environs, the pots…even the tea, and obligatory snacks, were tasteful and high class.

While most all of the nurseries we visited had at least one, if not several, Kichou(registered large bonsai masterpiece) or Miyabi(registered shohin and chuhin cultural treasure) Bonsai, At the Suzuki garden, there were nearly more Kichou bonsai than we saw the entire rest of the trip!

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American apprentices Matt Reel and Tyler Sherrod hard at work. In addition to these two talented gentlemen, Michael Hagedorn was also a Deshi here, once upon a time.

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The first trees one sees upon entrance: those are NOT shohin. Around 5 feet tall, with the massive pots.

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And, turning a corner…
A Few Bench Shots

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Some Individual Trees

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Mr. Suzuki’s famous Tosho

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Elegant Kaede Group

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Massive Ezomatsu(Ezo spruce)

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Refined Shimpaku with interesting Jin

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Massive Goyomatsu(white pine) with significant deadwood

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Ezomatsu

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A very famous White Pine, one of my all time favorites.

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Ezomatsu

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Massive Ezomatsu

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Ume

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Momiji

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Large Taxus

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And from the side, the large Taxus above

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Another Taxus

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Camellia

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Eleagnus and grass

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Chojubai

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Kaede

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Crepe Myrtle? Stewartia?

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Black Pine

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Shimpaku

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White Pine

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Shimpaku

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Red Pine

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Black Pine

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Red Pine?

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Elegant cascade pine

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Unique and interesting Red pine

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Awesomely refined Tosho

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A famous Shimpaku

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Semi Cascade black pine

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Shimpaku

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Shimpaku

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Shimpaku

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Camellia

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White Pine

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White Pine ishitzuke

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White Pine with great ten-jin

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White Pine

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Cascade white pine

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Cascade Shimpaku

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Black pine

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Shimpaku

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Black Pine

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Red Pine

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Interesting twisted White Pine

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Shimpaku

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Stewartia, from the side

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Old Shohin Trident in a famous Tofukuji Pot

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Close up of the pot

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And the Echizen Hosui in my collection that is an homage to the above Tofukuji

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Ezomatsu

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Fantastic Red Pine

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Shimpaku

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Tosho

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One of my favorite trees of the day 😉
There, at random on one of the benches, a tiny Mame bonsai of no great importance

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Shimpaku

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White Pine

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Semi cascade white pine

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Shimpaku

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Shimpaku

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Tosho

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Stinky Maple

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Momiji

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Interesting tray planting of spruce and a stone

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Kaede Clump

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And we’ll finish up our look at some of the trees at Suzuki San’s garden with this shohin Dwarf Rose, popping a couple of blooms for out visit.
Some Close Ups

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A massive pine undergoes an air layer

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Famous Sabamiki on a White Pine

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Bark!!

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Impressive Deadwood

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Bark an base detail on Iwashide(hornbeam)

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Ibo-jin on Ezomatsu

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Twisty Shimpaku and Jin detail

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Jin Detail on Shimpaku

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Ezomatsu sabamiki/Shari

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Shimpaku deadwood

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Momiji base

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Kaede base

Shoujuen
After leaving Suzuki San’s garden, we were taken to Shoukuen, the garden of Takashii Iura, and his father before him. Iura San was very kind and welcoming, and the garden…well….it was beyond cool. Iura San’s father specialized in the collecting and grafting of Yamadori, and like many who specialized in this, his son went on to specialize in training and styling these trees, with Takeo Kawabe.
There were many many trees at Shoujuen, in varying states of completion, from raw stock Tohaku, Tosho, and Yews getting their first grafts, to some of my favorite refined bonsai of all time.
Iura was very kind in allowing us to hang out for half the day, despite the oppressive heat, and took us out for a very nice lunch of Sushi and Sashimi. He’ll be at the Mid Atlantic Bonsai Society spring convention this year, so keep an eye out for him.

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The above two are two of my favorite Junipers of all time: Raijin and Fujin, the gods of thunder and lightning, and Wind, respectively.

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Massively impressive Shimpaku. Like most, these started as either Tohaku or Tosho, and have had their “clothing changed” to finer Itoigawa or Kishu foliage.

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Small Shimpaku

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A massive collected Juniper undergoing
“clothing change”. That’s Peter Warren there to the right. He was a real trooper dealing with us in this trip, and looks a lot better than we all felt by this time on the trip.

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Some impressive Junipers, all grafted with finer foliage

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Massive Shimpaku with grafted foliage

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Some large and impressively twisty yamadori Junipers

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Semi-cascade Shimpaku with fan-style deadwood

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Impressive and elegant Shimpaku

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Super twisty yamadori Shimpaku

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Impressive Shinpaku on poles throughout the garden

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In the back, benches upon benches of yamadori undergoing grafting

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Tosho becoming Shimpaku

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Further back, in the greenhouse, many massive Yews in development

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More yews undergoing grafting and rough styling

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Shimpaku in the process of grafting

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Nice Chuhin Yew

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Some lonely Deciduous bonsai 😉

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A Prostrata juniper being transformed into a Shinpaku. The pots for the scions are visible, as is the original foliage.

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A massive juniper with terrible foliage is being transformed with grafts.

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A very famous juniper. I was wondering where it was when first arrived at Shunka-en. Here, being grafted for improvement. Even the most famous and refined trees are continually being improved upon in Japan.

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From the middle of thorough stock area

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Nice Taxus

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Shinpaku with grafts set.

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Tosho becomes Shimpaku

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Tohaku becomes Shimpaku

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From the front gate…
Close Ups

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The incredible Ten-Jin and deadwood of Fujin. For some better shots, check out Peter Tea’s visit:
Peter Teas Visit to Shoujuen

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Thanks for reading! Next up, we visit Shunkaen and Akiyama San, then Morimae San and Yoruzuen, and, finally, Pottery Journal 1 and 2.

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Nihon de Hajimete, Part 5: Fujikawa Kouka En, Yoshoen, and Miura Baijuen

The next morning had us up bright and early to visit Fujikawa Kouka-en. If you’re reading this blog, chances are good that you’re a hobbyist advanced enough to be very familiar with Fujikawa San, the nursery, and the wonderful videos created there by Bjorn Bjornholm. You are also probably familiar with American professional Owen Reich, Maeoka San, David Martinez, and probably even many of the trees at the nursery.
If you are Not, head over to the YouTube as soon as you are done reading here and spend a couple of days watching them! And while you’re at it, stop by Owen’s and Bjorn blogs as well.
The Bonsai Art of Japan
Bjorvala Bonsai Studio
Owen’s Bonsai Unearthed

Fujikawa San was a gracious host, and had Bjorn guide us throughout the the nursery, despite his workload of a very large and impressive hinoki undergoing an air layer.
So, let’s check out some trees! I’m going to split these up by category, because there are a lot of photos: overviews and feature shots, Junipers, pines and other Conifers, deciduous and broadleaf evergreens, and deadwood and close ups.
Feature Shots and Overviews

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Bjorn’s work of the day, a client’s hinoki cypress undergoing an air layer. I’m sure he would’ve been much farther along than those lowest branches if hasn’t had to stop work every thirty seconds to translate and show us around!

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Bjorn answers questions and explains the reasoning behind the large box this shishigashira maple was planted in.

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As Bjorn explains, In the background, you’ll see the bars of what is affectionately referred to as “the jail” where specimen trees are housed; a remnant of the bonsai boom years where tree prices were so high that theft was an issue.

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The Shishigashira maple subject.

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Bjorn goes on to explain the necessity of Ume grafting.

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Junipers

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Pines and Other Conifers

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Deciduous and Broadleaf Evergreens/strong>

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Ficus

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Kaede

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Kaede

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Momiji

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Hornbeam

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Crepe Myrtle with some showy flowers

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Momiji

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Momiji

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Momiji

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Dwarf Asiatic Jasmine

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Camelia

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Ume

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Ume

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Ume

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Ume

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Momiji

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Apple

Close Ups

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Crepe Myrtle trunk

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Momiji nebari with my hand for scale

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Ume and deadwood

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Shimpaku Jin and deadwood

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Kusamono with one of my favorites: the terrestrial orchid egret flower.

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Kusamono

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Pine shari and Deadwood

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Shimpaku fin-style deadwood

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Pine Shari with Uro(branch hollow)

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Shimpaku deadwood

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Shimpaku deadwood

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Shimpaku Ten-jin

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Ume Ten-Jin

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Ume Shari and deadwood with Uro

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Ume deadwood

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Ume shari and deadwood

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Momiji Base

And I’ll finish up with a final shot of that Shishigashira maple from earlier.

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I can’t stress enough how great it was to visit Fujikawa Kouka-en. If your trip to Japan takes you within half a days travel of Osaka, it’s not to be missed!

Yoshoen
I’ve known and dealt with Rie Aketo San at Yoshoen for a couple of years now, and it was nice to finally see the garden. Yoshoen is more like a big-box store than many of the other nurseries we visited, with an incredibly impressive array of bonsai, of many many species, and every size. While Yoshoen doesn’t boast the most historical of pottery selections, they definitely boast the largest!

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More literal seas of Bonsai!

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Specimen shohin black pines.

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Shohin starter and larger black and red pines.

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Larger and more developed pine stock.

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A group of various species, I think I see Tosho, Beauty Berry, Momiji, and Satsuki, plus a field of starter stock.

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Impressively fruiting Toringo Crabapple.

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One of the most impressive Arakawa Shohin I’ve seen. While most everything at Yoshoen was very reasonably priced, this bad boy was not cheap!

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Shohin Eleagnus

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Very nice shohin Ume, definitely something on my wish list!

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Asiatic Jasmine(Chirimen)

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Shohin Black pines.

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Tosho(Needle Juniper)

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Cascade Black Or Red Pine

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There were several of these around the nursery. Not an unusual sight in our Southern neck of the woods! Mimosa, or silk tree.

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Kaede

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Nice Hokaidachi Zelcova
Miura Baijuen
I’ve long enjoyed browsing Miura San’s website for pics of shohin bonsai, and it was nice to see the nursery in person. It’s interesting, some nurseries show the least online, yet have the largest stocks around! Miura Baijuen boasted an impressive array of shohin bonsai, pots, stands, and suiseki.

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Big pines and matching shitakusa

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More big pines

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Shohin Akebia

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A long row of larger pines

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Various Species

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Nice Shohin ROR Kaede

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Super nice shohin Ume. Got to get me one of those!

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Shohin Akebia. Like many vines, it’s got that weird nodule near the base.

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Kaede, Miyajima white pine, and Stewartia

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Cascade Akebia

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World class shohin stretch far into the distance. The fenced rear area was client trees.

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No idea what this is, but I thought the base was rather interesting and the trunkline elegant.

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Hornbeam

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Two sides of a Shohin Ume in development. Did I mention I gotta get me one of these?

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Big boy Satsuki with the lush mountainous background of Miura Baijuen

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And we’ll finish up today with this weird citrus. It’s some type of contorted dwarf kumquat, in a Koyo pot. Never seen IT before! Branches were much more coarse than the popular Kinzu, but the wild herringbone growth is very unique and interesting. Yet another variety to add to the list!

Thanks for reading! Up next, we visit some fellow Americans(and Shinji Suzuki’s nursery….) as well Iura San and Shoujuen(watch out MABA!) one of the highlights of my trip!
Stay tuned, I’ll have that next post up by Friday!

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Nihon de Hajimete, Part 4: Koju En, Kyoto Temples, and Yamataen

Hello all! It’s been awhile! It seems it’s taking ten times as long to finish up writing about our trip to Japan as at has actually going! Between work and a problem with my trees(while I am a pot guy, it’s still all about the trees) I haven’t had a free second to post anything for a couple of months. Sorry about that. So, let’s rectify that now. With fall here and winter close behind, I have much more free time. So, I hope to finish up the last 5 posts about the trip this week, then we’ll take a look at some new pots I’ve added to my collection, followed by profiles on Kanzan, Sharaku, and Antique Chinese pots. Let’s get to it!
Koju En
Let me start off by saying that our visit came at a fortuitous time! Not only did we bump into Masumi San on our way, who gave us directions, but the day before our visit a collector had stopped in to sell a significant portion of his collection. I’ll go into more detail about all that was there in the last post, but here’s a couple of teasers:

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Yusens and other majorly pricey pieces

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Seas of pots!

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The recently purchased collection covered nearly every surface of the obligatory meeting space, including the floor!

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World class Tofukujis, Kouzans, and more Tofukujis!
Koju En is one of the top 3 Shohin Nurseries in Japan, and the trees certainly didn’t disappoint! Masumi San and his father were both very friendly and indulged us, despite the poor, rainy weather.

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Veritable seas of world class Shohin bonsai!

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A few shots of Shimpaku.

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A few pines!

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Super nice Goyomatsu Cascade.

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Various Species: Akebia, Zelcova, Beauty Berry, and more!

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Akebia

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Broom style Zelkova

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Really impressive and large Kifu Sekka Hinoki

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Shimpaku

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Various Species: beauty berry, pines, osteomeles, chojubai, Viburnum…

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Japanese Maples!

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And still more maples, this time Kaede!

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One bad mother of a Shimpaku!

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A Pyracantha in a Koyo pot showing some fruit.

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Masumi San, me, and the nurseries’ founder, gracious hosts and great artists!
To-Ji Temple
Apparently, one can’t visit Kyoto without seeing some of the temples, and our guide wasn’t remiss in making sure we absorbed some non-bonsai related Japanese Culture.

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A stork flees while I try to snap his photo

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One of the few highlights of the poor weather was the way the water pooled inside these leaves

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Kiyomizu Dera
Next we visited Kiyomizu Dera. A fair hike into the hills, through rolling streets filled with vendors, and the occasional Geisha, the hike up to the temple, and the temple itself, is like a microcosm of what Kyoto is: a strange mix of the very modern and the very ancient. Kyoto seems to have both feet firmly planted in two entirely different times.

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The entrance.

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Pilgrims are supposed to drink from this cultivated spring for good luck and prosperity.

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Kyoto far in the distance.

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The foundation pillars. Massive!

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Far in the distance, another temple.

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A tranquil garden

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Wisteria

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Old pine, it’s elongated branches supported by bamboo beams.
Yamataen
Located in a beautiful and tranquil forest, a bit out of the way, was Yamataen. The bonsai there were spectacular, and run the gamut from shohin and kusamono to omono size bonsai, deciduous and Conifers. Despite the rain and mist, it was well worth the visit.

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Sorry for the poor photo, but keep an eye out for this pine this February!

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The surroundings of Yamataen.

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Some killer pines.

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An awesome hawthorn, with Matt Ouwinga in the background on the right, and Neil Dellinger peeking around the left.

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Ume

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Root over rock Kaede, with Peter peeking around on the right.

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Tosho

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A few impressive conifers.

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Shohin and Chuhin pines.

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Big and well ramified Chinese Quince.

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Impressive old Momiji.

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A few Japanese Maples.

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Kusamono and shitakusa.

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A large and want tree. Can’t remember the variety, and the poor weather wasnt as conducive to photos as I would’ve liked.

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Assorted pines and Junipers, shohin and chuhin size.

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Maples!

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Shohin…..viburnum?

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A couple of Shohin Japanese Maples.

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And we’ll finish up our look at the bonsai at Yamataen with this massive Beauty Berry forest.

Thanks for coming along with me, again, and after such a long time. Ill have plenty of time to post all winter, so the articles should keep rolling out, a couple a week, for the next few months!
Up later today or tomorrow: we visit our friends at Fujikawa Kouka-En, Yoshoen, and drive a ways to Miura Baijuen. Stay tuned, and thanks for reading!

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