From 1887 until around 1907 many chinese junipers could be found in the mountains of the Japanese islands Shikoku, Ishizuchi and Tsuguri-yama. The most prominent collector, Tahae Suzuki, dug out many of today's most famous bonsai there.
Bonsai collector Tahae Suzuki at the foot of the mountain Meoyo-san. Photograph from 1924.
After a certain time he couldn't find any more plants in these mountains that satisfied his standards - even though trees were still being collected there, they didn't have the quality that had made Mr Suzuki famous. So he travelled to other mountain regions searching for trees. He even went all the way to Hokkaido, the island in the north of Japan. On his way he came along the valley of the Hilo river which is well known today, between the mountains Kurohime-san and Meoyo-san. This was the orginal source of a variety of chinese juniper which was popular for its fine scaly foliage and the intense green color: Shimpaku. In 1924 Mr Suzuki and his brother found the tree shown here, which was later given the name “Higurashi”. At that time, Mr Suzuki was already 59 years old. We know that he continued collecting trees until he was 70 years old. Mr Suzuki worked diligently and professionally, and each tree was cultivated in his nursery until in his opinion they had adapted to the new environment. This could take up to five years.
The first owner of Higurashi was the petrol merchant Chutaro Nakano. He gave it this name which means translated “Living in the Now”.
The first photograph that still exists today was taken in 1939. It shows the tree in an outside Tokonoma of the Tokyo Bonsai Club. Until 1952 it changed owners several times; we don't know who owned it during that time. Then Kohe Ota aquired it from a famous trader named Koichi Kujiuho who traded many other famous bonsai such as Tsuru-nomai, Meoyo, Sui-um, and Meogi-san. Mr Ota entrusted Saichi Suzuki with the cultivation and shaping of the tree - back then and still today it is customary in Japan that owners of famous bonsai leave their cultivation to renowned masters. In 1955, Higurashi was displayed at the 30th Kokufu-Ten exhibition in an unusual way: Its owner Mr Ota was convinced that a good bonsai didn't have a front or back side, so he positioned the tree on a continuously rotating tabletop.
After the death of Mr Ota his entire collection was sold at an auction of the Tokyo Bonsai Club, and Higurashi was acquired by Seichi Sato.
Higurashi in 1957
The preceding text was an excerpt from an article “The History of Famous Bonsai” in Vol. 7 of BONSAI ART. In that article you can read the entire fascinating story of the tree until today.
What's particularly of interest for us pot lovers is of course the antique chinese pot. The last time Higurashi was photographed in this pot was probably in 1959/60; photographs from the year 1968 already show it in another pot.
What's particularly of interest for us pot lovers is of course the antique chinese pot. The last time Higurashi was photographed in this pot was probably in 1959/60; photographs from the year 1968 already show it in another pot.Now on to the main topic of this article, the beautiful old pot in which Higurashi was cultivated for 10 - 15 years. The pot also became world famous and is shown in many bonsai pot books. Here are some photographs to enjoy.
Front of the pot
Back of the pot
The mark at the bottom of the pot means “Keishose-Ryu” (Keishose, China).
Parts of this article were kindly provided by BONSAI ART.
Books that I know of in which this pot is displayed:
Nippon Bonsai Association, 2 volumes published 1990 (see the section “Bonsai Pot Books”, book 2)
Hyoe Hatanaka: “Bonsai Pots – Appreciation and Enjoyment of Ceramic Art”, published 1996 (see the section “Bonsai Pot Books”, book 3)