Bonsai Buying Trip and Byodo-in

I try not to look at regional maps too much; I remember how close North Korea is!

A client, Miyashta-san (87) of Takefu contacted Fujikawa-san as he was interested in decreasing the size of his collection; especially the heavy trees.  Takefu (near Komatsu on the map) is on the coast of the main island of Honshu so this was my first chance to see the Sea of Japan.   Mr. Miyashta was a sucessful rice farmer and niwaki professional specializing in Winter preparation work; namely using rope to protect trees from snow loads.  He owns two of my favorite chuhin bonsai here (a root-over-rock Acer palmatum and Juniperus rigida).  Both were in the 85th and 86th Kokufu-ten respectively.  The tosho has been at Kouka-en for 12 years and showing it this year was the culmination of this project.

Getting to his house was an adventure in itself with 3 extra hours of traffic jams and narrow small-town roads.  The traverse of the final 100 meters was especially tense with wheels not completely on the road.

The first order of business was tempting him with a tosho bonsai we have been improving for the last few years.  He bit on the tosho and was happy to have a tree worked on by Kimura-san and for the last two or three years, us.

Oddly enough, one of the most difficult things for me on a road trip is appearing busy with no marching orders or tasks to complete.  You can’t wander aimlessly through a clients property or the like, so I weeded the remaining collection.  His kusamono collection was small but excellent.  After loading the van, I raced to get some photos while they settled up.


A few of the bonsai we acquired.


After that stop, we headed to a local bonsai and ceramics dealer in Sabae City called Sabae Engei.  The owner makes Bunzan pots.  I bought a few and again raced around photographing kusamono with interesting plant combinations.

The ride home was uneventful so I decided to try and get some interesting sign photos while doing 120 km / hour.


The robotic flag man looks like a much better investment….

Top floor of the museum. The majority is in an underground bunker.

As we appoached Kyoto on our way back home, Fujikawa-san asked (rhetorically) if we should stop at Byodo-in. Official Site  This event was a super rare chance on the order of pigs flying; especially during a work trip.  With an hour before closing we blew through and snapped a few quick photos.  Byodo-in has quickly become one of my favorite sites in Kyoto.  The ultra-modern museum blends very well into the landscape and there is perfect separation between this new structure and the 959 year old Phoenix Hall below. The museum is chock-full of national treasures  Going just to see the Bosatsu on Clouds would be worth the admission fee.  Another great success of this site is the separation of the temple and gardens from a bustling city that surrounds it.  In my opinion, the best gardens and historic sites in Japan make you forget what century it is : ).
My first visit with Fujikawa-san a few days before was a bit rushed so I returned on my next day off.  The temple will have almost two years worth of repairs done starting next month so it seemed like a good idea to experience this place without a bunch of walls hiding the good stuff.     The roof will be replaced on the hall and likely be painted the original flashy colors.  I fear the historically accurate restoration will change the feeling the whole place to that of a circus, but I’ve got my photos and memories of the current look.  The faded paintings on the doors and inside the Phoenix Hall leave something to the imagination.  A re-creation of this structure with something closer to the original color scheme is in Oahu, Hawaii.  Being a University of Georgia alumni, tacky orange colored things just don’t sit right with me…..  They should spend the money keeping the water clear.   A few more photos of the site for posterity:


That last one of me was for solidarity….

Thanks for reading.