The Other Side of Things

The other side of Things

As you would imagine the majority of the work around here is on the trees in the nursery, and it is. However there is another side to the bonsai lifestyle at Daijuen that takes us outside the walls of the nursery, but never too far from more bonsai trees. Attending auctions, exhibitions (big and small) and working on trees at customers houses are also a part of the duties here at Daijuen. In this post I will give you a little behind the scenes tour of some of our trips in the last two months.  Hope you enjoy.


There is a local group of bonsai professionals that meets once a month for an auction in the Nagoya area that we always go to. There are also periodic auctions in Tokyo that Mr. Suzuki goes to as well. I had the pleasure of going to one of those on my last trip here, it was quite impressive. These are far bigger auctions, and draw a much larger crowd of professionals.

For the local auctions anywhere form 25-40 people usually show up and just about everyone brings items for sale. Depending how many people show up there can be a couple hundred trees in them, as well as pots, stones, compliment plants and even fruit being placed on the blocks. The auctions are fun, but as an apprentice it means a full day/evening running trees all over the place. First we assist everyone with the unloading of their trucks when they arrive. Then once the auction starts each tree, pot, stone etc is brought to the auction block and once purchased the item is run off to a designated pile for each person attending. Many of the trees are large and heavy, it’s and exhausting day.  Then when the auctions are over we help everybody load up their trucks with what they have purchased.


Trees going in                                                               Trees coming out


After the auction everyone checking out their piles, paying for what they bought


The auction site rotates each month to different members nurseries.These are from the site of another auction one evening. It’s great to get to see all these other nurseries and the professionals that operate them. They are a close nit bunch, and it’s fun to be around them. There is always food, drinks and a lot of laughs.


There has been a bunch of small to midsize exhibitions since I have returned.  These exhibitions are not  just for bonsai professionals like some of the large ones. These exhibitions have some local hobbyist in them and a few professionals as well. Before these shows there is a fair amount of pre-show business that takes place here at the nursery. All the trees are cleaned up for the shows, moss is placed and pots are cleaned and oiled. For the Larger Exhibitions like Meifu-Ten, Kokufu-Ten and Taikan-Ten the trees are changed from their growing pots into show pots. Theses are often antique Chinese pots that are very beautiful, and very valuable. However for these local shows the pots are not changed. The next step is matching the trees and the stands. Usually this a process of elimination. Mr. Suzuki may try a tree on several different stands before deciding. Width, height, color and style are all considered when making this decision. This is a great learning opportunity for me. Matching stands with trees and choosing compliment plants are all part of the process of exhibiting trees properly. Creating the right feel for each tree is important. A good display will lead your eye around it and show the best attributes of a tree. Everything around the tree should compliment it and enhance the display, without taking away from the tree itself. It’s  great to watch him work and study each display long before it ever hits the exhibition table.The care and attention to detail is the same no matter how big or small the show may be, another great lesson.







Nagoya Castle


For the larger shows there are event staff the set up and break down the display area. By the time we show up all we need to do is find our designated spot and set up our display. However at these smaller local shows we do everything. Here are some pictures of a room being transformed into an exhibition area.


                                                           The room before

They have got this down to a science. Everything is super organized. All the plywood boards are cut to fit the tables, the skirts are neatly folded and ready to go. The felt is rolled and tied, the backboards and brackets are stacked by the door. Tape, twine and any other accessories needed are all available.


     Once the room is set we start bringing in trees and Mr. Suzuki starts decides where they should go. This is yet again another learning experience watching Mr. Suzuki set up a show. It’s great to see where the trees are placed, and which trees are placed next to each other. It’s quite the process. He is really setting the tone and the flow of the whole exhibition. With the placement of each tree he is leading the visitors around the room without then even knowing it. Once again the care and attention to detail are of the utmost importance.


Always a last minute adjustment to be made


small vending area

The Trees





We have been to a couple of smaller shows like this. These are mostly hobbyist but they still bring nice trees to the show. I am looking forward to the Taikan-Ten show in Kyoto next month. Taikan-Ten is one of the largest shows in Japan and brings professionals from all over the country. Can’t wait!

Customers Houses

Here are a few photos from various customers’ houses. I don’t bring my camera when we go off to do work but I usually manage to snap a few pictures with my phone of some trees and other things of interest. I love how the yards are landscaped and take a lot of pictures to use for ideas in my own yard.






Fu-Sempai and the gardener pruning a landscape tree at a customers house, Safety first! This large and very old Black Pine is pruned much in the same way that the bonsai are. Last years needles are plucked, candles are reduced and unnecessary branches are cut.  These old trees are amazing, and it can take days to prune them.


I hope you have enjoyed this little tour into our life on the road. There are just to many pictures to really do any of this justice so i’ll plan on putting together another post like this before I go. Keep an eye out for more tree posts this week, and those of you on the East Coast of the USA tuck away your trees and be safe during the storm, good luck! As always thanks for reading!

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2 Responses to The Other Side of Things

  1. Jim says:

    I enjoy your posts. Keep them coming!
    Jim S. – Baltimore Bonsai Club, PBA

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