Taikan-ten 2011

Taikan-ten 2011

Sorry I haven’t posted in awhile.  It’s been very busy lately because of the show season.  Luckily, the busy season doesn’t last forever so here is a brand new post about Taikan-ten.  In this post, I will talk a bit about the show, the judging process and some of the things I did during the set up.  The nice thing about being apart of the setup crew is that I got to see the behind the scenes of how the show came together.  I was also fortunate to meet other apprentices from other nurseries.

31st Taikan-ten exhibition in Kyoto, Japan.  November 25-28.  This show is the second largest show in Japan.

Prepping for show

Instead of going into the show prep, Jonas from Bonsai Tonight wrote a great post about prepping for Taikan-ten.  Visit here to see what went on for show preparations.

What’s a show without loading a trunk full of very large heavy trees?  As you can imagine, we did lots of lifting in awkward positions.

On our way to Kyoto.  This was one of the many tunnels we drove through.  If you want to go anywhere long distances in Japan, you’re going to go through a lot of these.

Of course!  20 minutes into the drive, a rock hits the windshield.  We couldn’t stop laughing.  Good thing it’s a rental trunk.

We stopped at a rest stop to get some food and this crazy person just stood in front of our trunk the whole time.  Hahaha.  That’s actually U sempai having some fun with us.  Though he is still crazy…

In this picture, you can see another shot of the crack in the windshield!  Oh yeah, once we got into Kyoto, we drove through the biggest Torii gate I have ever seen in my life.  The base of one of the pillars is bigger then a car!


Once we got to the hall and set up the show, the judging for the trees began.  There was a group of about 10 or so judges that walked from tree to tree.  There was two rounds of judging to finally pick the winners.  From what I could tell, there was multiple categories ranging from tree sizes, types and styles.  There was even awards for suiseki.  Once the preliminary around was over, all the selected trees were places on long rows of tables.  Trees for different prize categories were placed together, then they were judged.

That’s a lot of trees to judge!  No wonder it took so long.

Here is Mr. Tohru Suzuki on the left and Taka sempai in the red shirt.  This section of the judging was for rock planting.  Mr Tohru Suzuki is one of the executive committee members for Taikan-ten.

The judging lasted for several hours so let see what else was going on during the judging.

There’s Uch sempai running around looking busy.  One thing I learned quickly here is that an apprentice should always look busy.  If you watch closely you can see some of them sweeping the same spot for 10 minutes.  I especially like the, “walking like you need to be somewhere but not really,”  technique.

Here is Mr. Akio Kondo (Ak sempai) setting up his sales table.

Here’s me doing some last minute pruning on a dense Trident maple.  This section of trees were not part of the judging.

Here’s Jonas giving us some scale for this large Japanese Black Pine.

Back to the judging

Once the trees went through the second round, the winners were announced.  This Yew Hemlock caught many peoples attention.  It made sense that it took the prize for medium conifer.  We don’t have any Yews here at Aichien because they don’t do well in the hot weather that we have in Nagoya.

The group of judges making the rounds.

I’m not going to talk too much into which trees won which prize  because a book isproduced for this show every year and I don’t want to take away from that.  Also, the following pictures are only some of the trees and stones at Taikan-ten.  Enjoy!

This is an interesting stone.  It looks like a rabbit!  As if you didn’t already figure that one out.  ;o)  I looked closely and could not tell if it was carved or not.  A part of me wants to believe that it’s all natural, but I have a feeling it’s been manipulated.  Honestly though, I can’t tell.

This was one of my favorite trees at the show.  I believe it came from Mr. Shinji Suzuki’s garden.  It’s a mult-trunk rough bark Japanese maple.  It was over 24 inches (61 cm) tall and just amazing!

A very nice cascading Japanese Black Pine

Semi-cascading Shimpaku.  The white thing hanging down is the tag on the tree.  Please place finger over it to enjoy tree.

Another cascading Japanese Black Pine.  I really like the pot this tree is in.  It’s a Chinese Antique pot with a huge lip!  I’m a fan of the lips!

Here’s a cool twisty Shimpaku

A meaty Azalea!  Did you know that azaleas can go in either glazed or unglazed pots?  If not, now you do.  If you did, then good for you!

I’ve heard that Ginko Bonsai have lost popularity in Japan.  I think they’re great and wouldn’t mind having one.

Here is a small suiseki on display.  It’s only about 5 inches (12.7 cm) long.  What does the stone looks like to you?

These two pots were on loan from a famous collection.  They are over 150 years old.

This huge Japanese Black pine is over 48 inches (122cm) tall.  This tree had it’s own special display and hasn’t been shown for a very long time.  The significance of this tree is that it was in Hiroshima when the atomic bomb was dropped there in 1945.  It survived the blast and since has found it’s way to Daiju-en.

This was a very unusual display.  The black stone is incredibly heavy.  Four people helped carry it.  The round ball on top required two people to lift it.  The owner pointed out that in the round stone, there is a pattern that looks like a rabbit.  I’m not sure about the significance of the overall display but interesting none the less.

Now that is a lot of princess persimmons!  Just a warning, for those who may not know.  The persimmons taste horrible!  I sacrificed my taste buds to ge the word out.

Here is great big Japanese Holly.  This tree won a prize.

Again, sorry about the tag. This Japanese Black Pine won a prize.  Very nice!

Nice little hut stone.

Another amazing Ginko.  WOW!

Here’s a nice Five Needle Pine

Dense multi-trunk Trident Maple.  This photo was shot before I did some last minute pruning.

Colorful chrysanthemum stone

This display won the Shohin category

Not the best picture but this large Japanese Black Pine won the Kokufu prize three years ago.

This big Japanese Black Pine won Kokufu-ten at the 70th show about 15 years ago.  Interesting thing I did not know about this tree was that it was mostly developed at Aichi-en for many decades before being sold to Mr. Kamiya, who then styled it and won the Kokufu-ten prize for it.  When the tree won the Kokufu prize, it did not have a hollow trunk.  Not sure how that happend.

Sales area!

The sale area for Taikan-ten was huge!  This picture only shows half of the sales area.  I have more pictures of the sales area but I feel that it would be too painful for those who did not attend to see so I will leave it at that.

After the show was over, we did the usual clean up and loading of trees.  I did my share of lifting as always.  I hope you enjoyed the digital show.  This was the first Taikan-ten I’ve ever attended.  Hopefully you all can say the same in the future.

Thanks for visiting

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45 thoughts on “Taikan-ten 2011

  1. […] get a better sense of the overall event, please read Peter Tea’s report, “Taikan-ten 2011” and see Bjorvala Bonsai Studio’s fantastic video report, “The Bonsai Art of […]

  2. Jane Yamashiroya says:

    Aloha from Hawaii, Peter.
    It’s great that you are apprenticing with one of the up and coming young bonsai masters of Japan. Junichiro of Aichien is very talented so you are fortunate to be under his watchful eye.
    Thank you for sharing your photos of Taikanten.
    It was nice meeting you in Takamatsu and Kyoto.
    Good luck and enjoy your stay in Nagoya. You are lucky.
    Jane Yamashiroya

  3. Jose Luis. says:

    Hola Peter,enhorabuena por el blog, tengo una pregunta para usted,en las exposiciones de primer nivel tipo esta, la kokufu-ten, que tipos de alambrados permiten,me imagino que solo el de refinado para peinarlo,muchas gracias de antemano.
    Un saludo desde Madrid

    Jose Luis.

  4. Andrea says:

    Bellissimo servizio fotograficoGrazie.

  5. Luciana says:

    hello here,
    … about the stone rabbit, if it had been manipulated, it would have also changed the chip, which you can see on the junction of the ear … (pardon my speech…)

  6. Janet Roth says:

    Hiya Peter – hope you are recuperating from all those weeks of heavy lifting! It was really nice seeing you at Gomangoku. What an enjoyable show 🙂

    You ask above “Here is a small suiseki on display. It’s only about 5 inches (12.7 cm) long. What does the stone looks like to you?”.

    Immediately when I saw it Hokusai’s “Great Wave off Kanagawa” came to my mind.

    Cheers! (and remember to keep looking busy)

    • Peter Tea says:

      Hi Janet,

      Now that Sakafu is over, we have a break from the show season until Meifu-ten in January. LOL We’re starting to get back to work on trees and starting to do some deciduous trees soon. I’m especially excited about that.

      I too thought the stone looked like a wave. The stone was so tiny and detailed and I had to look at it multiple times. Since it was so small, they actually placed inside an clear acrylic box.

      Thanks for reading the blog Janet and I hope to see you and Mas when I’m back in March. Take care

  7. Killer trees, especially the pines. Are the sale trees as ridiculously expensive as we have heard or is that just a story to make us feel better since we can’t import them anyway?

    • Peter Tea says:

      Hi Michael,

      It all depends on the trees. The one of a kind and famous trees are the high dollar ones we always hear about. The typical average tree is actually very nicely priced, so yes, it hurts when I see that. LOL Thanks Michael and take care.

  8. Thank’s you for pictures. I love the picture with crazy Yuji Akanuma… my sensei in France!!!

  9. Wow ! Wonderful experience and THANKS for sharing ! I’ve just signed up with The WordPress.com and certainly looking forward to read more of your blogs.
    Hope to see more of those GINGOS in my dreams tonight , Ha! Cheers.

  10. […] This Japanese holly won a prize at the Taikan-ten. Photo is from Peter Tea’s blog. […]

  11. Sam Edge says:

    Yes, I’m in pain!!

    Thanks for the photos Peter it is wonderful for people who didn’t get a chance to attend.

  12. Show Time says:

    […] This Japanese holly won a prize at the Taikan-ten. Photo is from Peter Tea’s blog. […]

  13. Seiji and Della says:

    Enjoyed the time spent with you and Jonas at ASPAC. Missed you at Taikanten but then we were only there briefly. Great trees! It was great seeing you having adapted and enjoying your bonsai adventure to the fullest.

    Seiji and Della

    • Peter Tea says:

      Hi Seiji and Della,

      I was really great to see you two again. Sorry I missed you at Taikan-ten but I was only there for the setup and tear down. Hehehe I’m learning lots and getting some great ideas for future show setups and designs when I come back home.

      I’ll be back in California in March and I hope to see you guys then. Thanks and take care!

  14. Shannon Young says:

    Thanks Peter great pic’s, bummer I couldn’t get there…. But I managed at least to get to ASPAC.

  15. Elliott Farkas says:

    So Cool!! Peter, when your done, were gonna have to start a So. Cal study group for you to head up. I can’t wait! Hurry! LOL

    • Peter Tea says:

      Hi Elliott,

      I’m trying to finish this apprenticeship as fast as I can! LOL I can’t wait to get back and work with people again. Thanks!

  16. Jeff Lahr says:

    Great photos. Many of us will most likely only experience these Japanese exhibitions through your photo essays. Were there restrictions regarding the photography?

    • Peter Tea says:

      Hi Jeff,

      At the big shows, they normally don’t let you take pictures. I think it more of a traffic control issue then a tree owner not wanting you to have a picture of the tree. Take care Jeff

  17. bonsaijapan says:

    Another great post! I would love to get to the taikan-ten one year.

  18. Houston Sanders says:

    This has nothing to do with bonsai, but was the persimmon astringent? They always look great but are inedible until they freeze in the fall.
    Thanks for your interesting and educational blog!

    • Peter Tea says:

      Hi Houston,

      Yes, the small persimmons are very astringent! I never tasted anything that shrunk my gums so much. LOL A friend of mine actually developed sores in his mouth because of it.

      Once they ripen though, they are suppose to loose the astringency. Unfortunately on the small fruit persimmons, they are only skin and seed so no actual meat to eat. LOL I’m going to stick to the big tasty ones from now on.

      Thanks for the comment Houston. Take care

  19. japanesepots says:

    Very nice post Peter! Great trees! Interesting information too. I have a pot that was commissioned by a prize winner at the 70th Kokofu, an Ikkou copy of a Tofukuji. Never could find out who commissioned it, perhaps Mr. Kamiya! Coincidentally, I think the Tofukuji it’s a copy of(or a very similar Tofo) can be seen holding a Gardenia in the winning shohin display!
    The pot can be seen here at my blog:

  20. Alan Walker says:

    Peter: It was nice to meet you at Taikan-ten last week. Thanks for posting so many nice photos, since most of us could not legally take them. (Of course, many surreptitious photos were made, but they are generally not good quality.)

    • Peter Tea says:

      Hi Alan,

      Good meeting you too! I lucked out because I was there for the setup and at that time, nobody cared about me taking photos. LOL Thanks again for reading the blog. Take care

  21. Greg Wentzel says:

    I felt like I was there. Thanks for sharing.

  22. Hi Peter,

    Thanks for sharing these outstanding pictures. May I correct you with the name of the first tree in the ‘Judging’ section? Because I believe it is a hemlock (Tsuga) instead of a yew…

    Best regards,

    • Peter Tea says:

      Hi Hans,

      Thanks for visiting the blog. Thanks for the correction too. I didn’t even know they had hemlock here in Japan. Take care.

      • Hiya Peter and Hans,
        Excuse me for interupting but I was under the impretion that Hemock is the yew family anyway. I was lucky enough to spend all weekend at the show and I might like to say thank you Peter for sharing the photos of the trees. I would of loved to have been able to of taken photos but the rule was no camaras. Your photos are great but just dont really give the right perspective of these trees, they where all magnificent and if I could of taken anyhome it would of been the White Beach and the Multi trunkMaple, Thanks to you all for putting on such a good show and sharing with use your experiance in setting up etc.

        • Peter Tea says:

          Hi Chrissie,

          Yew are in the Taxus genus and Hemlock on in the Tsuga genus. I did some research on the leaf characteristics and sometimes they can be the same. Their bark does differ though because a Hemlock will develop rough thicker bark when old and a yew tends to be thin and flaky bark.

          Thanks for reading the blog Chrissie and sharing your thoughts. I personally didn’t think much of the difference between the two till now so I learned something new too. Take care

          • Hi Peter.
            Here in the UK we have both types although I have only worked with European and Japanese Yews. I have yet to find a Hemlock that has the age of some of the material I have in my collection. They can sometimes be quite tricky to keep they dont seem to like full sun and I do have a problem with infestation. Trying to keep them healthy is a full time job, but on the whole w very rewarding subject to work on. I have a few field grown trees coming in next year. cant wait to start on them. They also carve will. anyway thanks for your comments and I look forward to reading more of your posts.

  23. Luc says:

    Very nice show, thanks for sharing the photos.
    The Azalea and the Holly are my favourite, both very nice trees.

  24. Jeremiah Lee says:

    Fantastic Post as always!

  25. Fr. Tom Davis, OSA says:

    Awesome photo essay Peter!
    Thanks for sharing these great photos and your show experiences.
    It’s amazing how much work really goes into making these types of shows what they mean and are.

  26. Penny Pawl says:

    Thanks Peter, Such wonderful trees. Can you slip a couple in your pocket!! Penny

  27. Barry McDonnell says:

    Peter, thank you for the tour of the show. Great pictures and comments. I was touched by the display of the Hiroshima Pine. A very special tree.

  28. Sandy Vee says:

    Thanks Peter for another great article.

  29. Owen Reich says:

    Nice post. The blue semi-casacade Shimpaku came from us (Kouka-en). Great to hang out with you and Jonas.

  30. Frank says:

    Thanks Peter ! Enjoyed the photo’s.

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