Buy a tree in Japan, leave it there

HorseloverFat

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Thanks for your replies so far. This is very helpful!

I understand that we can think of different categories of hobbyists:
- People who don't see that as interesting because they want the tree with them, at home, to enjoy it and learn with it. @namnhi, @bdmatt, I assume that what you meant?
- People who are pursuing financial motives, such as investment, and,
- People who like bonsai for beauty of the art but don't know necessarily enough about maintaining them, like art collectors (@Srt8madness).
I was wondering also about people looking to enter Japan shows like the Kokufu with a tree they own. Can only do this if the tree is in Japan, don't you think?

Now, let's say you do buy that tree. What do you think about possible motives to do such a thing?

@Deci22 you are raising a good point, when to enjoy it? Do we only enjoy bonsai by seeing them physically?

@vp999, what if you can't? what if you can? permanentely or not?
Most folks here are practitioners... And like maintaining and "mastering" their own trees
 

rockm

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If you're serious about getting quality insight, might be worth your while to ask U.S. bonsai professionals who have studied in Japan for their views. It might be instructive to ask them who Japanese bonsai nurseries best customers are. I have heard that bonsai in Japan is a hobby of the rich, professional baseball players and corporate execs use them as status symbols. The trees typically are not cared for by the actual owner, but are left at the nursery for care and show prep. The owner, however, gets the credit for winning awards at those shows and the caretaker gets a second billing.

There is also a rumor that bonsai are also appreciated by the Yakuza (who knows...). This link used to go to a podcast by Bjorn Bjornholm (Eisei En Bonsai) that talked about it. Podcast was taken down.
 

actionflies

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This definitely apply to people with a lot of money. People who like bonsai trees and only want to look at them instead of learning to work on them. You then hired Ryan or Bjorn every year to come over and work on your trees etc. It's like the very rich people where they hired nannies to raised their kids, maid to clean houses etc.
 

Cajunrider

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This definitely apply to people with a lot of money. People who like bonsai trees and only want to look at them instead of learning to work on them. You then hired Ryan or Bjorn every year to come over and work on your trees etc. It's like the very rich people where they hired nannies to raised their kids, maid to clean houses etc.
This is pretty common in Asia. Rich people have bonsai trees for status and for entertainment. They either hire people to take care of the bonsai in their homes or to keep the bonsai. In some cases, they only lease the bonsai for a particular time of the year.
For example, in Vietnam, it is not uncommon for people to lease an Ochna Integerrima for one or two weeks on the Lunar newyear and pay $4-10 K US for just that period. These are usually huge bonsai and have to be delivered and set up by cranes.
 

R0b

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As with many others, I enjoy developing my own trees and enjoy their development and change over the seasons in my garden.
 

dbonsaiw

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If you aren't enslaved to your trees, are you really practicing bonsai? Joking aside, this seems weird. If you aren't developing the tree, it isn't for investment and you're not one of those with the giant collection that needs to show trees in Japan, what's the point? For me, bonsai is about the journey. I'd love to have nice trees one day (and would pay for more finished trees) but if I can't nurse my beers while starring at the trees endlessly and can't tinker and learn I would have quit a few days after I started. I enjoy mangling my trees much more than I do watching the awesome progress of others (which I do enjoy).
 

actionflies

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This is pretty common in Asia. Rich people have bonsai trees for status and for entertainment. They either hire people to take care of the bonsai in their homes or to keep the bonsai. In some cases, they only lease the bonsai for a particular time of the year.
For example, in Vietnam, it is not uncommon for people to lease an Ochna Integerrima for one or two weeks on the Lunar newyear and pay $4-10 K US for just that period. These are usually huge bonsai and have to be delivered and set up by cranes.
I agree 100%. Been to Vietnam during new year and visited a rich family where they rented a tree just for the event.
 

apic92

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Thank you all for your replies to this open question. Very interesting to see how this topic is felt by many of you. I am reviewing your replies and will publish the next question soon :)
Your positive an open mindset is very appreciated!!
 

Glaucus

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Patronage is common historically. In part because inequality has historically been very large and the super rich have been funding artists this way. Basically all famous historical artists worked this way.
There was no middle class to buy art and fund artists.

So you are at least a multimillionaire and you basically fund a famous Japanese bonsai artist. And they then advertise that his work is yours, giving you fame.
Pretty sure this is how some billionaires in Japan also own some of the most famous Japanese bonsai.
Or you can do it if you are kinda rich and stupid/obsessed by bonsai. For a 'normal person', I don't see why you would want to pay an annual 30k so that officially you own a few top pieces of a famous bonsai artist.
 
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This is actually very common, at least with high-level trees.
Last year at the kokufu-ten, I noticed that many trees had foreign owners listed on the plaques. Mainly Chinese, Italian, German, and Spanish owners .
This was after 2 years of tight border closures, too, so they are not only maintained, but shown by masters domestically. From memory, I would say that somewhere around 20% were foreign owned. Some by individuals, some by collectives.
 

Cajunrider

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Very comparable to racehorse owner, trainer and jockey.
And many other things such as musical instruments. There are owners of masterpieces that can barely play adequately. Sword owners that cannot really wield them. Sniper gun owners who can't hit a target 300 yard away let alone a 1 mile shot. I remember going to my buddy's house and he proudly showed me a piece saying: "This bad boy can take a deer down 1.5 miles away." I told him: "Dude, you missed an 70 yd shot with a good shooting gun."
And I, I now owned a few prebonsai BCs that can be really good bonsai. I will butcher them in the coming months :D
 

Wood

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@apic92 One thing to note is that you're in Japan and asking a board full of mostly Americans. Our bonsai community is at a very different level that Japan's.

Bjorn has talked about certain trees that never left Kouka-en (where he apprenticed) despite changing hands several times over the past few decades. Their famous literati Japanese maple is one of them.

[...] The owner, however, gets the credit for winning awards at those shows and the caretaker gets a second billing.

There is also a rumor that bonsai are also appreciated by the Yakuza (who knows...). [...]

If I recall, professionals aren't allowed to enter trees they own in the Kokufu. And didn't Michael Hagedorn also mention the Yakuza were heavily into azaleas in one of his books?
 

rockm

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@apic92 One thing to note is that you're in Japan and asking a board full of mostly Americans. Our bonsai community is at a very different level that Japan's.

Bjorn has talked about certain trees that never left Kouka-en (where he apprenticed) despite changing hands several times over the past few decades. Their famous literati Japanese maple is one of them.



If I recall, professionals aren't allowed to enter trees they own in the Kokufu. And didn't Michael Hagedorn also mention the Yakuza were heavily into azaleas in one of his books?
From what I understand (and I've never been to that event or to Japan...), trees in Kokufu are entered under the owners' names, but submitted by the nursery owner who typically keeps the tree.

As for the Yakuza stuff, seems to be a touchy subject, which to me, means there's probably something to it.
 

rockm

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Interesting post by Bill Valavanis on Kokufu 23. Two American-owned trees in the competition, as well as almost a dozen from other countries. Doug Paul (Kennett Collection) -juniper, and Mark Cooper - maple.
 

Gsteil

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Interesting post by Bill Valavanis on Kokufu 23. Two American-owned trees in the competition, as well as almost a dozen from other countries. Doug Paul (Kennett Collection) -juniper, and Mark Cooper - maple.
Beautiful trees. That double trunk Korean hornbeam was remarkable.
Also, biochar cups to clean the air?? That's not how air purification works.
 
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There are others besides Doug that do have trees that they own kept in Japan, just to be able to show in the Japanese exhibitions.

Out of curiosity, do they travel there to work on the tree, or is it more like a show horse like Bjorn described in his recent Kokofu video?

He showed Doug Paul's tree and wow, what a tree. It made me curious as to how the work was done and I remembered this thread - and lo, Doug had even been mentioned here.

The dead wood on the trunk is something else.
 
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