Monday, August 20, 2012

Toju-en, Omiya

I visited this nursery in February 2010. It was minded by just one person who was cleaning the brunches of a Black Pine. He wasn’t interested in talking to me, so I just wandered off looking at the trees and there were enough of them to see. Photography was prohibited, so I just took a couple of shots from the gate (see images above). The current owner of Toju-en is Hiromi Hamano. His farther Motosuke Hamano had several students who became bonsai masters in their own right. The most famous of them is Masahiko Kimura who trained there for eleven years from the age of fifteen till 1966. Motosuke Hamano passed away in 1991.

P. S. For my posts about bonsai nurseries in Kyoto see the following links:

Friday, August 17, 2012

Shoutou-en, Omiya

This bonsai nursery is a residence converted by its owner Taeko Komuro to a shop selling small trees and pots (see the photos). It was unattended when I visited it, so I just took a couple of photos and left.

P. S. For my posts about bonsai nurseries in Kyoto see the following links:

Wednesday, August 15, 2012

Kyuka-en, Omiya

Kyuka-en is steeped in bonsai history of 20th century. It was established in 1929 by Kyuzo Murata, a talented bonsai artist who played a significant role in the development and popularisation of bonsai. There is a lot of information about him on the Internet. In a nutshell, he looked after the Japanese Imperial Household collection of bonsai since 1931. In the 20’s, together with an ikebana scissors maker Masakuni I, he developed bonsai tools as we know them today. After the war, he was instrumental in popularising bonsai in the US. Several of his books are published in English. He passed away in 1991. Kyuka-en is currently a garden supplies business run by Kyuzo Murata’s grandson Yukio Murata. Although Kyuka-en no longer functions as a typical bonsai nursery, it still opens its doors to visitors and it has many interesting trees (see images below).
I visited the nursery in 2010 during Kokufu-ten exhibition and was greeted by Yukio Murata’s mother Rumiko-san. She told me that everyone is at Kokufu-ten in Tokyo. It was a cold day, so she invited me in and gave me some tea. She told me that I could take photos of bonsai and before I left gave me a bunch of Bonsai International magazines. Later, I made the connection: the editor of Bonsai International Bill Valavanis is a former student of Kyuzo Murata.

P. S. For my posts about bonsai nurseries in Kyoto see the following links:

Monday, August 13, 2012

Fuyo-en, Omiya

Fuyo-en is the closest bonsai nursery to Omiya-koen train station. Entering this nursery felt like stepping into the photos in old Japanese bonsai books from the 60’s. This impression was conveyed by the aged bonsai trees, things with patina and little details like path pavers, etc. Since my visit took place on the second day of Kokufu-ten there was not a sole at the nursery and I used this opportunity to take a couple of photos. There were enough of interesting trees to look at (see images below).

The owner of Fuyo-en is Hiroshi Takeyama. I met him the previous day at Kokufu-ten in Tokyo. From his business card I learned that he is the chairman of the Nippon Bonsai Association. After my trip to Japan, I came across of Hiroshi Takeyama’s little book titled 盆栽よい盆栽を育てるために (Bonsai: How to grow good bonsai) published in 1993. The book is in Japanese and I realised that he is the author only after I started translating bits and pieces of it. The glossary proved to be especially useful.

P. S. For my posts about bonsai nurseries in Kyoto see the following links:

Saturday, August 11, 2012

Seiko-en, Omiya

I decided to revisit my tour of bonsai nurseries in Omiya in a series of posts dedicated to each nursery. This one deals with Seiko-en. This nursery was very well kept and had the most contemporary look. My guess was that they could maintain that by being more commercial. There were little indications of that, like the entrance fee and a more obvious retail element. I felt it was unfair to charge an entrance fee and not allow photography in the garden. I was able to take a few snaps before I was told off by one of the staff. Later, I learned from Lindsay Farr’s World of Bonsai series that Seiko-en is ran by Kaori Yamada, the fifth generation owner of the nursery. Bonsai is a man’s pursuit in Japan and it is unconventional for a lady to be a bonsai teacher, hence most of her students are female. Japanese women are more familiar with ikebana and Kaori Yamada specialises in teaching an ikebana-like bonsai she calls saika. It might seem novel to us, but bonsai was strongly influenced by ikebana in the course of its development in Japan. Nevertheless, the advent of saika demonstrates good business sense and adds diversity to bonsai as a whole. At the same time, conventional bonsai was still prevalent at the nursery as shown in the photos below.

P. S. For my posts about bonsai nurseries in Kyoto see the following links: