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Takagi 1

A Visit To The Takagi Bonsai Museums In Tokyo

This is the title of a beautiful, emotional report by Michael Exner, published in the Bonsai Art Magazine Vol. 27. One chapter of this report describes Mr Takagi as a passionate collector of bonsai pots.

Here's an extract of the text:

The museum emanates a modern elegance with traditional elements of japanese interior design.

Here you can also find the passion which was the base of Mr Takagi's bonsai enthusiasm: bonsai pots. At the age of ten he began to collect them and after sixty years he had gathered more than 4000 antique exemplars. Among these was one pot for which he had payed the incredible sum of one hundred million Yen (about 700 000€) which he tells with considerable pride. This one and other stunnig pots and suibans are stored on a separate floor, guarded by two employees, after they have been photographed, catalogued and securely packaged. In the museum onlye a few selected pots are shown at a time.

Beside trees and pots there are other interesting items, for example a wooden cubic box containing thousands of wooden sticks with inscriptions. This box belonged to Mr Ito, an important person from the Meiji restoration, who wrote the detailed maintenance data of his bonsai onto these wooden sticks.

But now enough raving about all these things that are wonderful for bonsai people. Mr Takagi not only displays them ingenuously but plans and implements many things to bring forward bonsai in Japan and in Europe. For example, since 5 years he has been organizing a prestigious ceramic competition to encourage the development of new bonsai pots.

So far the extract of this article.

Since 1993 these exhibitions take place which are highly interesting for us bonsai enthusiasts.

Modern bonsai pot creations in traditional display.

A unique exhibition.

In the bonsai museum of Tokyo, the foundation for the advancement of the japanese bonsai pot culture (the founder is Mr Takagi) staged an exhibition of bonsai in modern pots which was attended by many innovative pottery artists. Famous bonsai masters were invited to display their own trees in contemporary pots alongh with traditional accent elements. The decisions of the masters concerning the plant and especially its shape and size were determined by the given pots.

On the yearly exhibition of the Takagi foundation these pots could impress with their design.

First price
Artist: Taiju Esaka; subject: The Visit of Spring;
Tree: Jap. Chinese Spiketail (Stachyurus praecox), height 123 cm, width 93 cm
Pot: Ken Mihara, length 28 cm, width  25,5 cm, height 22 cm
Accent plant: Adonis (Adonis amurensis), height 7 cm
Accent pot: Takuji Imada, length 53 cm, width 29 cm, height 16 cm

Taiju Esaka's comment:
I have chosen this tree to express the arrival of spring. The soft lines of the tree go well with those of the pot. With both pots I was careful not to repeat shapes.

Second price
Artist: Tomio Yamada
Subject: Temari
Tree: Asian bittersweet (Celastrus orbiculatus), height 70 cm, width 60 cm
Pot: Siroo Arai, diameter 29 cm, height 32.5 cm

Tomio Yamada's comment:
Not many species and styles can be planted in a pot like this one. I think however that this celastrus is in perfect harmony with it. Its fruit remind me of Temari, the traditional japanese ball game.

Third price
Artist: Masao Koide
Subject: Water course
Tree: Japanese flowering Apricot (Prunus mume), height 60 cm, width 63 cm
Pot: Kazuoki Watanabe, length 36 cm, width 27 cm, height 12.5 cm

Masao Koide's comment:
This pot is very difficult to handle for the bonsai enthusiast due to its lack of stability. The curve of this old tree really seems to harmonize very well with the pot. In oder to stabilize the complete work I actually had to put stones into the pot as a counterweight.

Artist:Susumu Sudoo
Subject: Moon shadow
Tree: Japanese black pine (Pinus thunbergiana), height 80 cm, width 67 cm
Pot: Sadamitsu Kataoka, length 41.5 cm, width 33.5 cm, height 14 cm

Susumu Sudoo's comment:
Interpreting the intentions of the pot's creator, I wanted to display the simple picture of an old pine that inclines toward the floor while the shadow of the spring moon is reflected on the sea. The pot attracts more attention that I first could imagine. I hope the lovely curve of the trunk is not predominated by the wavy shape of the pot.

Artist: Chiharu Imai
Subject: A Niche in a big City
Tree: Japanese elm (Zelkova serrata), height 37 cm
Pot: Yosikichi Kamiya, length 9 cm, width 8.8 cm, height 12 cm

Chiharu Imai's comment:
This is a pot with a traditional shape, but with a very modern texture. I have chosen a very striking tree so that the strong appeal of the pot does not detract the attention from the tree. I wanted to express the power of life which persists, hidden among the concrete of a big city.

Artist: Sidehiko Kanda
Subject: Loveliness
Tree: Coral bush (Ardisia crenata), height 30 cm, width 8 cm
Pot: Yuki Tanihiro, length 11 cm, width 9 cm, height 11.5 cm

Sidehiko Kanda's comment:
Planting this pair of pots requires trees or plants with lovely shapes. The pots resemble reed baskets used to carry flowers.

Artist: Tomio Yamada
Subject: The Light of Spring
Tree: Flowering Quince (Chaenomeles speciosa) height 47 cm, width 72 cm
Pot: Taeko Hiraga, length 45 cm, width 31 cm, height 11.5 cm

Tomio Yamyda's comment:
I don't know why but when I saw the colour of the pot, it suggested the soft light of spring to me. This is the main motive of this composition.

Artist: Hideo Susuki
Subject: Anchors aweigh!
Tree: Japanese white pine (Pinus parviflora), height 57 cm, widht 53 cm
Pot: Daika Kawakami, length 43 cm, width 23 cm , height 9 cm

Hideo Susuki's comment:
This pot is a challenge for a bonsai artist. Its shape is reminiscent of a ship. With the smooth movement of the pine I wanted to express the slow departing of a ship into a calm sea.

Artist: Hideo Ishii
Subject: Arrival of a lovely Season
Tree: Winter-flowering jasmine (Jasminum nudiflorum), height 45 cm, widht 47 cm
Pot: Chio Kurooka, diameter 34.5 cm, height 10.5 cm

Hideo Ishii's comment:
When I first saw this pot with its simple soft shape and clear colour I thougt of planting a tender grass into it. But then I selected this jasmine as a symbol for the beginning of spring.

Artist: Kenichi Abe
Subject: Breeze in the Forest
Tree: Japanese white pine (Pinus parviflora), height 50 cm, width 75 cm
Pot: Yuuji Nakano, length 47 cm, width 44.5 cm, height 12 cm

Kenichi Abe's comment:
This pot is not easy to plant. The rhythm of the pattern goes to the right, so the tree should move to this direction as well. As the square shape expresses strength at the same time, I have chosen a pine.

Artist: Susumu Sudoo
Subject: Spring games
Tree: Flowering quince (Chaenomeles speciosa), height 26 cm, width 50 cm
Pot: Shin Kataoka, length 51 cm, width 33 cm, height 11.5 cm

Susumu Sudoo's comment:
This is an oval pot of a very modern style. I thought a strong tree would not look very good in it. I tried to avoid artificial shapes and planted a tree with a very informal habitus.

Quoted article by Michael Exner, chief editor of BONSAI ART
Photographs in the qoted article by Michael Kros, editor of BONSAI ART
Article and photographs with kind permission of BONSAI ART.

Translation: Heike van Gunst

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