It came about almost accidentally, this trip to Japan; I was talking with a friend sometime last fall about my wish to go there and take in the Kokufu Show, the biggest bonsai event of the year held in Tokyo. He said he’d been there once with his wife and thought about returning…as the conversation wore on, it was clear to see we were in accord and plans were made. If you had asked me a year ago if this would be the year I’d be doing this, my answer would have been ‘probably not’ 😉  It turns out this year was a double show; opening week would be one set of trees, which were changed out on the weekend and a completely new set of trees were exhibited during the second week. The general public was not allowed to photograph the exhibit, so no photos of trees from the exhibit will be shown here. There were other opportunities and gardens to visit to get that out of my system…

I had to ask myself if I was crazy walking to get on the train at 5 a.m., Feb 4th…the ground was frozen and the glint of frost was everywhere. I really should be heading to Australia, to go scuba diving in the Great Barrier Reef! Instead, I’m heading somewhere that promises to be colder than here–brilliant! How ironic then, that the first foreign faces besides our own, happened to be from Australia, on holiday in Japan for–of all things–skiing! Our first spot to hit was the Tsukiji fish market to have sushi for breakfast. And that’s where we saw the Australians and lots of other tourists as well. We missed the big tuna auction there and had to settle for what we could find just walking around. The first image I took was of a manhole cover I thought was interesting in that such a mundane thing was given some careful thought:

manhole cover

My guess is that it’s a cherry blossom or possibly a plum. Next up is a shot of one of the little carts used to haul the fish around; this one has a load of frozen tuna recently pruchased:

tuna cart

These things were everywhere and moving fast! You really had to stay on your toes and I got a kick out of this sign among many warning tourists:

silly sign

Not eveyone was awake ;-):

sleeping on the job

Some colorful octopus for purchase:


Huge scallops!


Thinly sliced fresh tuna:


more tuna

A cooler full of tuna! All this was foreplay for our sushi breakfast, which came next:

eel shshi

This was eel…what he had:

more shsui

After breakfast, it was down to business of what we came for; we thought it might be crowded at the Kokufu show as it was early yet, so we decided to go to the ‘Green Club’ first. This is a sales area run by the Nippon Bonsai Association that runs in conjunction with the Kokufu show and is just off Ueno Park, where the show is held. It’s here the professionals in the show can sell trees and all sorts of things bonsai related to the visiting public. And photographs were allowed. Another manhole cover seen en route to the green club:

manhole cover

I especially liked all the different cobbles surrounding the quiet scene of a cherry tree in spring with petals falling around it. We also could hear and  spotted one of Ueno Park’s colorful crows:

Ueno crow

This guy had a ‘sad’ expression in its eye…no doubt anxious for spring too! A little shrine along the way:



Something about that roof line says I’m in Japan 😉 A yew for sale at the Green Club:



A nice little ‘chojubai’ quince to the left; these were everywhere and in flower too. There are sales areas outside and inside the building three levels for shopping as well. Trees, pots, stands, stones and tools. And books. Lots of ways to get rid of those piles of cash sitting around! So, I stepped inside and found this old quince:

large Chinese quince


I couldn’t imagine what this tree was worth, with a trunk of that  girth, well-positioned branches and fine ramification of twigs. They usually place the more valuable trees towards the back of their booth, if that helps. Next up, a large ‘chojubai’ quince in bloom:



I took a shot of this spruce, which reminded me of my spruce back home. Most were labelled Picea glenhii, which is Latin for the Ezo spruce:



And next, a typical shohin size black pine with price tag of $300–affordable! I only wish we were able to bring in something small like this but understand the reason why not 😦

shohin pine


From the Green Club we went to see the first phase of the Kokufu exhibit at the Metropolitan Museum. I spent over three hours there and was not disappointed! There was a massive red pine that that won a prize that really stood out in my mind as well as a beech raft style and on and on. I purchased the album that day and it cost $100! That included shipping to the U.S. in June. That’s all I’ve got time for today, I’ll try to get more up tomorrow. Thanks for dropping by!