Archive for the ‘Shows and Exhibitions’ Category

One day before Mr Tanaka was set to go to Kokufu he asked me to style this tree for the sales area.


At the time it was just before we watered, it was close to lunch and I need to leave early that day (about 3:00) for personal reasons. Mr Tanaka and the guy’s were heading off to a customer’s for work after lunch.

The tree had been bought previously bought by Mr Tanaka on-line. It is old, good leaf and many things going for it. The only problem with the tree from an earlier inspection is its bad branch structure. Knowing this and with my time limit I knew my work was cut out for me (apprentice pressure). 

So I set about wiring, cleaning the tree and pulling old needles as I went. Quickly we got called for lunch but, I ate fast and I went back to work straight after (not really any time for a lunch break).

I didn’t have so much time to pontificate about which branches to cut or keep but, I tried to keep to Aichi-en style and improve structure best I could with still trying to make the tree look nice.

This was the final result.


I thought that it didn’t turn out too bad but, Mr Tanaka decided not too take it. Not sure if this was because he felt it wasn’t good enough or just decided to keep it. 

The 85th Meifu-ten exhibit was on earlier this month and I’ve just got round to sorting through the Photo’s. It is a local show but, is one of the biggest in Japan and it is on at the same time as Gafu-ten so often people will visit both in the weekend. I didn’t take pictures of all the tree’s but, the one’s I thought were worth taking a picture of.

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The past Taikan-ten exhibition I was very fortunate to prep a display and tree’s for my good friends Mark and Ritta Cooper. The tree in question was a Momiji/Japanese mountain maple that has been at Aichi-en for the past 6-7 years and has previously been in Kokufu-ten exhibition.
It was always a tree that I admired here with an awesome trunk and superb leaf quality. The leaf quality is so good and the internode distance is so short it isn’t pinched in the spring. Certainly a rare find on any tree but, to find such a thick well tapered trunk certainly makes this a very special tree.
To cap it off, Mark and Ritta won a prize for the display and I couldn’t have been more pleased.
I’m very glad that it has found such good owners and I’m honoured that I had the chance to work on it before the exhibition. Thank you Mark and Ritta.

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Last weekend, for two day’s a local club called Kihachi Kai, put on an exhibit of their tree’s at the Shinpakuji Temple. The group was founded by the late Kamiya-San (one of our senpai’s, Boon’s Oyakata). When he passed away it was taken over by my Oyakata. We were there to help out setup and break down the next day. I had a short time frame to whip round and take a few pics.

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As well the local club exhibition tree’s, some of the private collection of the head priest (Oomura-San) was on display, as it always is. Here are some of the tree’s on display outside.

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The collection includes two Kokufu winner’s (A white pine and a Chinese quince) and Oomura-San has exhibited at Kokufu for the last 20 years.

Thanks for reading.

Since coming back from Kokufu for a few days ago, it is now my turn to stay here on my tod, to hold the fort whilst the other apprentices set up the second half of Kokufu exhibition.
This morning I woke up to a snow-covered Aichi-en and still snowing.

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Being as it is a Saturday the kids are home with friends. They seemed to me to be constructing snow and grit Bolder’s for me to finally meet my maker when I try to leave the workshop this evening, in the dark.

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As it turns out they were making a snowman of sorts.

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Now somehow, I need to find a pine that needs plucking and thaw it out (Wish me luck).

On a final thought I will be thinking of Kokufu at the green club as I guess the snow is probably their and worse if anything. I will especially be thinking of a Mr Peter Warren on Akiyama San’s Baiten, no doubt feeling the cold and trying to keep the snow off the tree’s whilst trying to sell stuff. I’m sure he will be blogging about it shortly with his Kokufu live.
Fortunately for Oyakata and the apprentices our Sales area is just inside the green club.

Thanks for reading.

Onwards and upwards!

This last weekend has seen the 84th Meif-ten exhibition. Meifu-ten is only a local show in Nagoya but, it is one of the biggest in Japan. The tree’s vary in quality but, in amongst them are some kokufu quality and kicho bonsai.
There is an extensive sales area with tree’s of all shapes & sizes at large price range up to 1-1.5 million yen. Pots from 1,000 yen for ten to Kozan/Tofukuji/Chinese antiques etc. Tools fertilizer and more.

Unfortunately I was unwell with what I believe was a virus of some sort so, I missed the setup day and the first exhibition day. Even though I was feeling far from 100% I really didn’t want to miss the whole exhibition (it’s some of the most exciting times as an apprentice) so, I soldiered on. I enjoyed myself anyway the last two days and added two more pots to my collection.

The general public weren’t supposed to take pictures but, as an apprentice it was one of the perks. I didn’t take pictures of everything but, please enjoy.

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It has been a while since I posted anything, for which I’m sorry but I have busy as always.

A while ago we were cleaning up the white pines on the nursery. This entailed removing old needles from 2 years ago on weaker/not so dense tree’s. These could be easily pulled gently with your hands, as they were turning yellow and going to fall in a while. The reason for doing this was to take them off before they turn brown, just to keep them looking nice.
On stronger/very dense tree’s we were cutting needles from two years ago and cutting the previous years needles. The reasoning behind this is to let some light in into the inner branches/thin them out. By cutting the previous years needles instead of pulling, it means that any cluster of needles with a bud in it that will potentially grow, will hold, the others will fall off, thus preserving any potential buds.

The two tree’s here, were just case of pulling the old needles from two years ago.

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It is a simple process but, just to clarify here’s some examples of what I did.

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A shoot untouched.

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The same shoot after needle removal.

Some of the shoots had old needles and hadn’t grown. The shoots of these that the needles came off easily, I cut off as they were going to die anyway.

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This was the tree after it’s clean up.

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This is the second pine, with the same process.

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Whilst I was working on it Oyakata took a look at and chopped off about three branches, which saved me some work and he explained how he wanted to change the angle of the tree making it an informal upright instead of cascade. The branches were too long as it was.

I made some jin’s were they were cut off.

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The tree after.

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A little while later Oyakata re-potted the tree and used the existing wiring to re-style the tree.

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The tree was then exhibited at the recent Nagoya castle show and was sold their to collector Kito-San.

Thanks for reading.

This last week I’ve been at The Royal Cornwall show helping my friend/mentor John Trott with his bonsai display in the floral marquee. This was the first show that I helped John with, five years ago and I’ve been each year since. I enjoy helping out at show’s and it really felt fitting that it was to be the last show that I will be attending, before my return to Japan and the start of my apprenticeship.

I know that there will be some people in the UK, certainly in bonsai circles who would perhaps be.. a little dismissive of county shows or even RHS shows (where bonsai display’s are judged at their own merit, along side all other forms of horticultural display’s). Though, I can see why some people might be dismissive, I believe that a lot of good, can and is done, at these events.
The real fact is that the amount of people into/keep bonsai in the country is a very, very, small proportion of the population. For bonsai to grow/develop in this country people need to be exposed to bonsai in a positive way. Rather than just the cheap mass-produced Chinese tree’s many people generally kill, on a mass scale from supermarkets and garden centres. We all start somewhere in our bonsai hobby and the more exposure the UK can get, the better, I think.
These show’s are a great place to show people a snippet of the reality of bonsai and give them a brief understanding of what bonsai are about. Potentially getting people inspired and interested in taking up the hobby or at least de-mystifying many of the misconceptions.

Well that’s enough of me on my soap box. Here are some picture’s of the display we put together.

The whole display.

The whole display.

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It is far from the traditional Japanese way of displaying tree’s but, it’s certainly no mean feat. Displaying this many tree’s from a single collection at once takes a hell of a lot of hard work, consideration and preparation.

Helping & going to show’s has helped me to learn a lot over the past five years which, I’m very great full for.

Thanks for reading.

It was an early start sunday morning and the roads on the way to Failand were pretty treacherous. There were three cars and a van which had skidded onto the verge (the van had flipped over too) due to icy patches near Bristol airport. Despite this we ploughed on and we made to the show. It was bitterly cold and I was glad to get inside. All the display tables were put out the night before and all that was needed was for people to set up the displays. After helping my mentor unload the car and partly setup his sales area I started with my display. I pretty much knew how it was going to go but, with a couple of helpful pointers from my good friend Mark Cooper it was done.

Photo courtesy of Mark Cooper

Photo courtesy of Mark Cooper

Close up of my accent

Close up of my accent

I was pleased with my contribution, I had some lovely comments from people, which I was very grateful for and thank you all.
This was my first time that I had exhibited any of my trees and it was certainly an experience I will never forget. I was never in a hurry to start to show tree’s but, I felt that these too didn’t look too bad and I was glad that they got excepted.
I’ve heard that exhibiting tree’s is like putting a part of yourself/soul on display to be scrutinized by the world and well it certainly felt like it. It was a strange feeling watching people looking, talking and taking pictures of my display. I just hope that most of it was positive and it was enjoyed.
The standard was very high and their weren’t any displays that looked out-of-place. This was a credit to the tree selection by Mark, Ritta and Bob.
The venue is on the small side but, this only helped to aid the atmosphere (I can concur that it was as every bit as good as the reports as well) and the lighting is second to none (Which is more than can be said for some venue’s).
All in all I was very proud to be a part if the show, it was a complete success and long may it continue.

I’m sorry that this post was so late but, with evening an evening class, club meeting and getting prepared for my departure it’s been pretty chaotic. Well my bags are packed.. Next stop.. Japan!

For my two tree display at the up and coming shohin show I had been allocated a half table size which consisted of a three-foot space. That was until a week last sunday when I was informed that I could have a whole table. This was good news because it should help me to exhibit to a higher potential (space is just as important as content). The only problem was that the jiita/wood slice that I had purchased at the Noelanders trophy to go underneath the cascade stand was too small and would look out-of-place with a larger display.
Finding decent large jiita’s with direction in the UK seem’s to be particularly difficult and the only person I knows who sells anything a long those lines is William (Samurai tools) from the Netherlands. That is who I bought my original slice from at Noelanders.
So, as soon as I got the new’s I was on the internet searching for something larger and more suitable. I felt that Japan was my best option at this point and if I had EMS delivery it should arrive the next week. Looking through Yosho-en’s website I found a suitable candidate. After contacting them I found out that the Jiita I wanted had in fact been sold but, they sent some photo’s of one a similar size and directional movement. It wasn’t as good as the other one but, this was reflected in the price. I thought this one would be ok and suitable so, I agreed to buying it and sent the money.
The package arrived safe and sound just in time yesterday.

New jiita from Japan

New jiita from Japan

First intended Jiita

First intended Jiita

I was going to work on this (sand it and stain it) for the show but, I’ll leave it for another time for now.

The two for comparison

The two for comparison

The size of the large jiita is about 57cm long.

Special thanks to everyone at Yosho-en for their wonderful service.