Gomangoku 五万石盆栽展 (Daiju-en show) 2011

Gomangoku 五万石盆栽展 (Daiju-en show)

Last week was the Gomangoku Show that the Daiju-en family puts on almost every year.  At this show, Daiju-en and many of it’s former apprentices came together to put a show on to promote the family.  If you don’t know Daiju-en, they are one of the most famous Bonsai groups in Japan.  They are mostly known for famous Black Pines but do work on other trees as well.   I was fortunate enough to be there to experience the setup, show, and tear down of the event (like I had a choice ;o).  The show was held on November 4-6th with the setup day on the 3rd.  In this post I will sharing the setup process and the show itself.  I would have to say that of all the shows I’ve set up in the past, this show was the most tiring because there was so much to do and the trees weren’t exactly light either.  It was a great experience though and a lot of fun.  I have a lot of pictures for this one so here we go.

Whats a show without trees for sale?

A few days before the show setup day, there was a couple of trees I was instructed to clean up for sale.

Here is the Black pine after the clean up.  I pulled off the old needles and moved a few branches around.  Any long needles that were sticking out of the silhouette I cut.  This tree ended up selling so I felt good about that.

Here is an exposed root cascading White Pine that I was told to wire for sale.  I was instructed to wire only the small branches
Here is the tree after I finished the wiring.  Mr. Tanaka and I looked at the tree and it didn’t look quite right so I ended up wiring some of the big branches and hiding the wiring with the foliage.  Since it was late at night and we were all tired, I tied this princess persimmon fruit to the roots for some laughs.Here is the tree after the adjustments.  I’d buy that!

Preparations at Daiju-en

Once we were done with out show and sale tree preparations, we headed to Daiju-en to help them prep all of their show trees.

Here is a quite large Japanese Maple that is about to have moss applied to the soil

Here is a very large Shimpaku that was getting dolled up for the show.

Here’s are some of the trees that have been prepared and waiting for show.

Once the trees were finished, Mr. Suzuki had us bring the trees up to this room one by one to match a stand to them.  He also matched the accent to the tree.  Once he was happy with the display, he tagged all items for that display so that we can recreate it at the show.  (Did I mention that these trees are heavy yet?)  One thing I learned that day was that for  big heavy tree you have, there’s a big heavy table to go with it.  The tree pictured above is pretty amazing.  It’s a very large Jasmine tree and it was grown that big purely in the pot.  Scars for these trees don’t heal either and this one had no scars on it.

Here is Uch sempai and Jonas cleaning the tables and helping with the table matching.  Jonas is one of the first people to take advantage of the Aichi-en apprenticeship program.  He was a great help for the show!

Got some slab options here.  This is a small portion of all the small stands they have.

Off to the facility for setup

Once all of the show prep was finished, it was time to get everything to the facility and start the show setup.  There was so many things going on at the same time during the setup up but it all went smoothy because everybody worked hard and knew what needed to be done.  Since everybody was my senior, I did a lot of running around all day.

Here are some of the show trees together.Interesting thing about this show is that the tables and backdrops were all created through a private designer.  As we were moving trees and stands around, they were busy putting all the hardware together.

There is Mr. Suzuki on the left.  He is the boss of Daiju-en and worked just like everybody else.

Here’s Jonas with some of the trees.  Joans is a tall guy so you can see that the trees are pretty big.  I can say that we both picked up every single tree at the show at one time or another. Most of them more then onces.First thing was to get all the trees photographed.  Mr. Fujiwara didn’t want to be left out so he decided to get in the picture too. Haha!  Did I mention that the trees were heavy?
Making sure the picture comes out perfect.
Once the backdrops were setup, we started moving trees to the display area
Here are a handful of my sempais taking a break during the setup.  Smoke’em if you got them!Here’s Mr. Suzuki telling me to get back to work.  Just kidding, he’s actually a very nice guy.Jonas and Uch sempai getting things done.  Uch sempai is the current apprentice at Daiju-enWhat a team player!Here are some trees for sale.  See anything you like?More trees for saleThis was the Aichi-en sales areaNot too shabby for a sales area

I told Jonas that if I could import trees, this Red Pine would be the first one I’d buy.


Once we got the show set up, we all went back to Daiju-en to have dinner and finish making the show programs.  It was a very long day and that night, I don’t think anybody really got enough sleep.  We woke up early the next morning and headed off to the show. Mr. Tanaka asked if I was sleepy and I said yes.  He said good, this is the experiences that you need as an apprentice.  Looking back now, I wouldn’t trade the experiences for anything.  I didn’t photograph every tree so the following pictures are only a small part of the show.  There was about 65 displays total at the show.

This huge Japanese Maple was placed at the front door of the hall.  Nice welcoming tree.

This Shimpaku is a famous tree in Japan.Bunjin Red Pine with some interesting movement.  Very nice
Japanese Maple with some tiny leaves

Bunjin Needle Juniper.  The tree is strange but I like it!Japanese maple without leaves.This stone looks like a little bird!

A very nice Black PineA very nice Needle JuniperAt one corner of the room, there was a small garden setup. Jonas and I helped build that fence!Very interesting accent plantAnother interesting accent plant.  It’s a mixture of a Japanese quince and fernsFall is here!I thought this was a cool second tree display.  I love the fact that the chicken is eating just like it was an ordinary day.  The tree is called a Akebia.
Here is a large root over rock Trident Maple.  I prepped this tree for show by pulling the large leaves to show off some of the structure and individual pads.Here is the large White Pine that Mr. Tanaka won second place at Sakafu-ten

Nice Black pine with an equally nice root stand.  I was told that the root stand cost about 25,000 dollars!One roll of the show
Here is a collected Yew.Another nice old Black PineChinese Quince.  Two of the four fruits on this tree was added on.  The crazy thing is that if you look closely at the stem and fruit you still sometimes cannot tell you if it was fake or real.Here is Jonas, Mr. Mitsyua, Uch sempai and Mr. Tanaka (different Tanaka) at the entrance table chatting.

At another corner of the room this modern display was made.  Very cool
Here is a picture of Mr. Tanaka talking with customers at the sales table.

Well there you go.  Gomangoku brought straight to your homes.  I didn’t get any pictures of the tear down of the show because everybody was just in a mad rush.  I wish I was able to take more photos to show the camaraderie of the Daiju-en group but just didn’t have my camera with me at all times.  Other times, I didn’t have enough time to take a picture even if I wanted.  After the tear down and the drive back to Daiju-en, we unloaded everything and had dinner together.  I could see the happiness on Mr. Suzuki face with all his former apprentices around him.  I’d compare it to having your kids home for Christmas.  Everybody was tired after dinner and we all ended up sitting in the living room watching a baseball play off game on TV together.  It was the final game of the Dragons and the Swallows.  The Dragons is the local team so we were all cheering for them.  We watched and cheered when the last out occurred and the Dragons won 2-1, winning the championship and heading to the world series in Japan.  What a fitting end to a great show.

I threw this photo in because I got a good laugh from it.  Apparently, this door is very dangerous to Pandas!  I’d have to say that thats how I felt after the show setup and tear down.

Thanks for reading

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22 thoughts on “Gomangoku 五万石盆栽展 (Daiju-en show) 2011

  1. Fantastic Peter Thanks, this was a treat to see such great photos & highest quality of workmanship. It feels like we were there with you & Jonas Happy Holidays & thanks for all the great Photos & info. All the best to you & your Family!

    Cheers John

  2. […] quality of the trees is very high. Peter Tea has written a great rundown of the event – see Gomangoku 五万石盆栽展 (Daiju-en show) 2011 for the full story. I was able to tag along as I’m spending time in Japan through […]

  3. kenny says:

    Thanks for a look on how a show is put on in Japan, along with showing us some impressive trees and list of alumni who helped to put on this fantastic show.

    So are u guys keeping Jonas; you do know he is currently unemployed…right? LOL

  4. Greg Wentzel says:

    Great post! It is great to see such high quality bonsai and learn how much work goes into preparing a show. Thanks for sharing.

  5. John Kirby says:

    Peter, thanks. After having watched the video an older show at Boon’s, it is nice to see the process. Hopefully you got Jonas to work hard……. John

    (He actually gives the appearance of a kid in a candy store!)

  6. Randi Heise says:

    The pictures and your comments go hand in hand. The flow of your comments actually make me feel as if you are leaning over my shoulder telling me about the trees, people across the room and accent plants. Well done Peter.

    • Peter Tea says:

      Thanks Randi! The whole reason why I started this blog was so that people can feel like they are right here with me apprenticing. Readers get some good info and I don’t feel so alone. ;o) Thanks for visiting!

  7. What an inspiring report. The effort to set up that show makes me aware of how little effort we put into our own shows. The trees were spectacular and the work preparing them looks monumental. The pictures were very informative. Thanks for your efforts to share with us.

  8. Robert says:

    Outstanding show…sales trees wow!..love the root stand…

  9. John W says:

    I so envy you being able be involved with such a beautiful show. Awesome trees. Thanks so much for sharing your experience!

  10. boon says:

    i missed being there. it’s good to see the pic of our family show. thanks,

  11. Sandy Vee says:

    WOWSA! Amazing and beautiful. Thanks!

  12. cherylas2009 says:

    the quality of the displays is very interesting to look at. Feel like I have seen at least part of the show without buying an airline ticket to Japan.

  13. Barry McDonnell says:

    Peter, a very entertaining chronology of show prep, set up, and viewing. Thanks also for including the room corner shots: the garden and modern display areas. Jonas looks familiar. Is he from the Bay Area Bonsai Society (Boon’s world)?

    • Peter Tea says:

      Hi Barry,

      You are very welcome! Jonas is a member of Bay Island Bonsai (Boon’s club). He’s also the creator of BonsaiTonight.com.

      Thanks for reading!

  14. Jeff Lahr says:

    What a monumental effort! I liked the modern display but it looks as if the lighting wasn’t quite right on th far right tree, but it might be the angle of the photograph.

    Do all the apprentices take as many photos as you do?

    • Peter Tea says:

      Hi Jeff,

      It might be the angle. Them seem to look pretty straight in person.
      I probably take more pictures then most because I use them for this blog. For the most part, I don’t see apprentices taking a lot of pictures. I think I can get away with it more because I’m foreign. LOL

  15. Chase says:

    Thanks for sharing you time with the pictures and comments.

  16. Frank says:

    Great post and a Very Nice show. Thanks for sharing

  17. David says:

    Must be hard to setup, but seeing all those trees and joy people have, that also gives energy i think.
    Tx for sharing :-). Would have loved to see some details of some trees. Like the maples and collected yew…
    the level of shows in japan is so high compared to Europe… or is it not on all shows that high?

    • Peter Tea says:

      Hi David,

      Thanks for reading the blog. The lighting in the room was good for viewing the trees but terrible for photos. Sorry about that. This show is one of the more bigger ones so the tree quality is nice. There are local shows here in Japan that are lower in quality too. Local hobbyist likes to put on shows too but the trees aren’t always that great, but I always applaude the effort. The local shows always seem to attract the new people into Bonsai.

      Thanks for the comment!

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