2018 38th Nippon Bonsai Taikan Exhibition Part 1

Valavanis Bonsai Blog


The 38thNippon Bonsai Taikan Exhibition opens tomorrow, November 23 and runs through November 26, 2018 at the Miyako Messe Exhibition Hall in Kyoto, Japan. Shinji Suzuki is the chairman this year and the exhibition is special with several private displays. This is the 30thyear of the Heisei Period, the current era in Japan. In October 2019 Japan will be enthroning a new Emperor which means a new era will begin. Therefor this will be the last Nippon Bonsai Taikan Exhibition in the Heisei Period. There are several new changes and the entire layout is a bit different, many with taller display areas. Quite a bit of advertising has been posted on Facebook and Mr. Suzuki has been writing a series of articles during the past month in a major Kyoto Newspaper.


I’ve been fortunate to have attended and studied nearly 30 of these exhibitions and have…

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The Exposed Root Japanese Five-needle Pine

Valavanis Bonsai Blog


This Japanese five-needle pine, Pinus parviflora cv., is growing in Ritsurin Garden in Takamatsu, Japan. It is on the shore of Nako Pond in front of the Kikugetsu-tei tea house complex and has been named “The Exposed Root Japanese Five-needle Pine.”


It was originally a small bonsai and the 11thTokugawa Shogun, Ienari (1773-1841), presented the bonsai to the 9thLord of the Matsudaira clan, Yorihiro (1798-1842.) The family treasured this bonsai but were afraid they will kill it, so they planted it in their garden for preservation. And it did thrive!


The exposed roots of the tree form the focal point for the garden tree. This is not the common Japanese five-needle pine, because it was grafted. I’m not certain of the exact cultivar of this tree, but it has short blue-green needles, similar to the cultivar ‘Miyajima.’ The graft union can still be distinctively seen. In…

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NIBS Peter Warren Workshop November 2018

Sally's Bridge Bonsai

I was very fortunate to grab a last minute place on this Northern Ireland Bonsai Society workshop with Peter Warren of Saruyama Bonsai in Newtonards last weekend. A 500 mile round trip in 24 hours left me physically tired, but the experience of working once more with Peter was educational and energising.


My tree was a larch clump collected in late 2014, it was first worked on in early 2016 at a Munster Bonsai Club workshop. It has a main trunk and several smaller trunks radiating around it, which emerge from beneath the surface. Part of any future re-potting will be to explore these secondary trunks and try to make more explicit their connection to the main trunk.


Because it had grown so well over the past few years it was quite dense and cluttered looking. I had expected a lot of growth to be removed and while quite a…

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We Shall Remember Them

Shohin Course With Morten Albek

Once again I was delighted to be asked to review the latest Bonsai Empire Course. This time we have a new face in front of the camera. Morten Albek is well known in the European bonsai community and more specifically the shohin side of things. The course was a pleasure to watch, and as we’ve come to expect from Bonsai Empire, of a high production quality and content.
For a non native English speaker, Morten’s English is probably easier to understand than my Northern Irish accent 🙂 He has laid out the content in small easy to follow lessons that you will be able to dip in and out of at your leisure. Content feels a little different to the preceding courses in that you are with Morten in his garden looking at the bonsai and displays with him. A refreshing change. The course covers a lot of basics of bonsai that refer not only to shohin but bonsai in general. We see wiring, repotting, care, and pruning all covered. The highlights for me though were the sessions on display and pot selection. Another plus point for many people out there will be his use of humble material for his creations showing what can be achieved with a little time and effort. Not all bonsai enthusiasts have the ability to afford top quality yamadori, indeed most people reading this blog with be on a tight budget.
If I was to be critical , only two things come to mind. I would have loved to have seen the display lecture being more extensive and perhaps with more content coming in 2019, this may well be part of the expansion. The other thing I noticed was a little bit of repetition in some areas. Morten even acknowledged this by stating that he was saying it again as it’s important. Either way his points were well made. I look forward to seeing what’s added next year and at the $44.99 price, one off payment for life, I think the course is a great starting point for anyone wanting to delve into the world of  shohin bonsai. Morten will be a good guide to get you going in the right direction. Well done Morten and Oscar, another bit of quality content for online learning. Interested, HERE is a link.

School Day in Bruree with Ian Young

Looking forward to a day with the super motivated Munster Bonsai Club.

Munster Bonsai Club

Looking forward to this school day where we will look at the world of Shohin Bonsai trees. Shohin refers to trees up to 20cm in height. Ian will discuss their care, development and styling, how to display them alone and in groups.

Also, we cover the jobs and tasks of the moment and the months ahead.

bonsai-school-bonsai-eejit nov 24 2019

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