The title alone will likely make some blood pressure rise. Others will avoid reading this to avoid a manifesto from yet another source. Fear not. Thought it would be nice to highlight one area I’ve visited near Kobe, Japan with some phenomenal Akamatsu (Pinus densiflora) a few years ago. Word came down that I would have a day off one day, so Maeoka-san was consulted. “I’d like to see old akamatsu and Fall color at high altitude”. “Go to Kobe and …….” said Maeoka-san. In the haze of exhaustion I didn’t catch the name of the mountain.
Catching a crack-of-dawn train to Kobe, I set off. Everyone headed up a path (at sea level) wearing full hiking regalia straight out of the train. When in doubt, follow the crowds.
The hike up was not horrible difficulty-wise. Kodak moments when the Japanese go on vacations are basically constant which slowed the pace considerably.
At the summit, I realized I was not where Maeoka-san told me to go.
This mountain, Kazefukiiwa, is slowly but surely stripped of soil and pumice near the summit. The neighboring mountain I was planning to see is about 5 times as tall with a cable car to get you there. I did make the best of the trip by heading towards a group of Japanese Red Pines on a nearby ridge.
On my way to the other red pines, this caught my attention. I prefer Pinus densiflora to Pinus thunbergii as red pines have a character all their own. Yes, the thought did occur to me to take it back to the garden. Theres an interesting term known as “Gaijin Smash”- you can act like you didn’t “know” that what you do in Japan is wrong even if you in fact do……. Let’s just say the spot is noted.
So, do these look like the canopies of pine bonsai? I’d say yes. These groves of akamatsu have all the character and dramtic movement you could ever want for inspiration. No human influence at all here. Foliage has thrived where possible and died where it was not.
This is one ridge on one mountain. Imagine the variety of places of natural scenic beauty that have inspired the Japanese to create their bonsai. You can do the same no matter where you call home. Enjoy the photos.