Continuing the delayed trip report, on the morning of the third day we had one appointment which would take up half the day. A trip to Koju-en, which along with Yorozu-en, Yamato-en and Taisho-en are the must see nurseries for any shohin or small pot enthusiast. Located about ten minutes walk from Kyoto station it is pretty much the only nursery in the old capital and is run by Masumi-san Senior and Junior who are both very talented and all round good blokes (especially if you buy stuff from them).
The range and quality of trees is very impressive and here are some highlights...
A batallion of Itoigawa Junipers...I can feel John Armitage getting excited as I type this....
One of my favourites from the group. It is a large shohin, a tree fairly typical of how the shohin world is moving...either above the generally accepted 20cm limit and encroaching into Kifu territory, or getting smaller and smaller into Bob Bailey mame territory.
If you hadn't already realised, I go for fairly atypical trees. With a bot of work this will be a very dynamic tree, with foliage mass and movement contrary to trunk and deadwood. Trees such as this can create a lot of dramatic tension.
As opposed to the fairly standard black pine image...not that I'm criticising this, far from it. Trees such as this, spot on 20cm tall, thick, well ramified and aged bark are the most highly sought after and are relatively expensive.
A very good example of creating yamadori styling from a container grown tree. Trees like this were originally created around the start of the shohin boom, around 20/30 years ago. Clearly a lot of forethought and planning has gone into them.
Black Pines this size, aged and well ramified are rare. The price on this is more than a spare kidney on the black market. These are destined for Hong Kong apparently...the trees that is, not my kidneys.
I was told this was a yamadori black pine...looking at the deadwood, you would be hard pressed to argue...mmm.
What I didnt get a picture of was all the pots they had. Matt Ouwinga, a Japanese pot collector extraordinaire was in heaven, and Masumi-san spent close to an hour bring pot after pot out of his cupboard and was very happy to find an appreciative audience. He kept saying how suprised he was that foreigners knew so much about them and were interested. My response was... "There are geeks everywhere."
After exhausting ourselves there, a half day in light rain of sightseeing was in order, although the boys were tired and wanted to sleep. I dragged them out saying it was a wasted opportunity to not see anything having flown half way around the world...however after traipsing around in the rain, maybe we should have slept.
One of the good things about Japanese summers...Hasu no hana, or lotus flowers. Which I talked about ages ago. From the murky, stinky depths comes such beauty.
Here is a wonderful pine from the entrance to Kiyomizudera. Aged, entirely pruned and worked, but such natural (?) character. Inspirational trees a plenty in old temple gardens.
The one thing that amazes me about the temple architecture, especially at Kiyomizu is the construction of the rooves. That line is just sublime and very difficult to contruct. A bit spoilt by the scaffolding in the background, but that was nothing compared to the braying masses of mainly Chinese tourists who were clearly well into the "Zen" spirituality of the place.
Continuing the hasu no hana theme, the display at one of my favourite Kyoto galleries...sadly I ruin the picture...
I didnt take any more pictures...but I can assure you we got wet. Thankfully the evening found us all full of various parts of chicken as we visited my favourite yakitori restaurant, a reccomendation from Mr. Morimae. Bellys full, we slept the righteous sleep before a big day tomorrow...to Osaka and beyond.