Bonsai tree: Taikan-ten setup and judging

Tuesday, December 20, 2011

Bonsai tree: Taikan-ten setup and judging

Source: Bonsai Tonight
Taikan-ten setup and judging

The 2011 Grandview Bonsai Exhibit, or Taikan-ten as it is generally known, was recently held at the Miyako-messe in Kyoto, Japan. The exhibit opened on Friday, November 25th, which means a lot of bonsai professionals – and amateurs – were busy on the 24th setting everything up. As fast as folks could set up their displays, others were taking theirs apart to facilitate judging. Around midday, the aisles were full of tables with trees under consideration for awards.

Lining up trees for judging

Conifers awaiting judging

Beautiful red maple

Large deciduous trees

The first round of judging is done by a group of bonsai professionals who narrow trees in each category down to the best three.

First round of judging

Professionals turning in their ballots for the suiseki category

Trees that don’t make the cut are returned to their displays. The remainder were shuffled for a second round of judging.

Deciduous trees

Large deciduous trees – final cut




Smaller satsuki

The tags were removed from trees that made it to the second round.

Deciduous category

Medium shishigashira – ready for the second round

Some of the judging categories were new to me.

Slab/stone plantings

The bonsai-on-a-slab-or-stone category?


The bunjingi category?

Once the trees had been selected for the second round, things in the hall slowed down a bit.

Owen and Peter

Owen Reich and Peter Tea comparing tales of apprenticeship

Others used to time to check out the displays.

Shooting photos

Bright red pyracantha berries – oh boy

The second round of judging took a long time to complete. Here the judges contemplate outstanding suiseki.

Second round of judging

Evaluating stones

Winning entries received awards – slender, gold cards. Once all of the awards were distributed, the trees returned to their displays.

Prize-winning pine

A winner!

Some displays got more attention than others. Below, a number of professionals watch the setup of a special display for the late Daizo Iwasaki. Iwasaki was one of the best-known bonsai collectors in Japan.

Setting up Daizo Iwasaki's display

Many volunteer to help arrange the late Mr. Iwasaki’s bonsai and suiseki

Daizo Iwasaki

Daizo Iwasaki

Daizo Iwasaki's juniper

Mr. Iwasaki’s shimpaku

The vendor area was the last part of the room to come together. It included large trees and small, rough pre-bonsai and show-ready trees, tools, pots, viewing stones and other bonsai-related material.

Vendor area

Trees for sale

Shimpaku for sale

A twisty shimpaku

Vendor area

Shohin bonsai from Fujikawa Kouka-en

Vendor area

Large black pines – ¥150,000

Vendor area

Tiny bonsai

Maple for sale

Powerful kifu-sized maple – ¥380,000

Stewartia for sale

Stewartia - ¥300,000

Small pots for sale

Small pots

Stones for sale


I’ll say more about the exhibit self later this week.


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