Kokufu Show and Suzuki’s Nursery!

Apologies for my blogging absence…

I was in Japan for half of February, and will post a few photos from that shortly. Technical problems abound… I used my iPhone for most of the image-making. Unknown at the time, my computer is so old that it will not accept images from the iPhone. And one of the quirks of the iPhone is that you can’t upload images to WordPress. Urg. Eventually I will offer some photos.

This year’s Kokufu was better than the last few years. The Kokufu along with most other bonsai shows in Japan have been in decline for 15 years. The quality of the trees is lower because fewer trees are being entered. In the past only 30% of the trees were accepted; now 70% acceptance is common. Of course the show is still impressive, and worth seeing. A large ‘Shishigashira’ Japanese maple won a Kokufu prize for a client of Shinji Suzuki’s.

After a couple days in Tokyo to see the show and the sales area, I worked in Obuse for Mr. Suzuki wiring trees for about 11 days.

Matt Reel is in his sixth year there, and he will be back in about a year. If he finishes the next year he will be the longest staying American apprentice, finishing up at about 6.7 years. His work has made major strides in the last couple of years, and I’m going to be happy to have him back here in Portland. I need help lifting things… no, kidding, he’s a super fellow and I will enjoy his company and enthusiasm. He will also be looking for client work, so if you want some high caliber work on your trees, let me know and I’ll put you in touch with him.

And there is a newcomer— Tyler Sherrod from North Carolina is finishing his first year at Suzuki’s. He’s also looking at 5+ years. Tyler is a wonderful solid guy and a hard worker. He fits in well there, and it was nice to spend some time with him. I’ll post on his progress in future years—

More later, following some technical overhaul!

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  1. Welcome back! Enjoyed hearing about the new apprentices…What are the reasons for the decline of the shows over the last 15 years, Michael? Would be interested in hearing your views regarding this…and look forward to your photos!

    • crataegus says:

      The decline in quality is mostly a result of economics. In the boom years for Japan that ended 20 years ago bonsai seemed a reasonable investment. There were million dollar bonsai out there; when the bubble burst those same bonsai are worth a ‘mere’ $100,000. The major shows are filled out with client owned bonsai, and the big clients are fewer who can own the best trees. The Kokufu used to have almost a thousand trees at the judging for 250 spots. Now the entries are half that.
      I’ll have some new photos up soon!

  2. Brad says:

    Glad to see this post! An exciting time for American Bonsai

  3. japanesepots says:

    Hey Michael,
    I also have a blog(Japanese bonsai pots), and have discovered that the WordPress app in the App store is a huge help. You can upload photos directly from your phone, it runs faster than using the net page, and it’s pretty user friendly. May solve the technical difficulties your having!

  4. Peter Holmsten says:

    Michael, Glad to hear Tyler made it over to Japan. Worked with him during two intensives with Boon. Always a good time! Looking forward to seeing pictures from Japan! By the way. When I saw your post about the egret orchids I had to have some. Happy to report they’ve sprouted and hopefully will be blooming soon.
    Peter Holmsten

    • crataegus says:

      Yes, Tyler is a trooper and is doing well over there! Glad you got to work with him a bit. Egret orchids are wonderful. Are you doing anything particular to grow them? Some report problems. I nest each bulb in a bit of sphagnum, and plant in kanuma. They seem to like that.

  5. dick benbow says:

    Love the chojubai pictures and feature on those up and comers now in training!

    Question. Having just purchased a small kusimono pot of yours Michael…
    what would compliment one of my chojubai to put in it. It’s about 2 1/2 inches in diameter and an inch high 🙂

    • crataegus says:

      Ah, THAT potter. My condolences… For a chojubai kusa you would need something of a different leaf shape and size, and you would want to avoid a flowering plant to prevent visual competition. A grass might work, something lowland and rambunctious perhaps, or even simple like a pot of moss. Send me a picture when you’ve got something potted!

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