The Beauty of Bonsai--Junsun Yamamoto

rockm

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Anyone else have this book ?

I ran across it a few days ago. A lot of interesting stuff in it-including info on Keido (which I haven't seen anywhere else) along with info on Japanese shohin display and noted shohin potters (including Heian Tofokuji). Additionally there is a chapter on Masahioko Kimura's ROCK carving and his concept of "Creative bonsai." Along with his pioneering of carving up bonsai, he has also become a decent stone cutter, doing much the same with a block of granite as he does with junipers...
 

Smoke

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Yes, I have had the book since Nov. 2010. I just gave mine away yesterday to the Santa Cruz Bonsai Kai for their raffle table after I did a program for them on bonsai display.

While I am a keido fanatic, I found the book fairly useless. Beautiful pictures, but I can see them all day long on the net for free!
 

rockm

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"While I am a keido fanatic, I found the book fairly useless."

It is certainly not a higly detailed treatise for experts, but does offer those unfamiliar with the relatively new school of Keido a way into it.
 

Smoke

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"While I am a keido fanatic, I found the book fairly useless."

It is certainly not a higly detailed treatise for experts, but does offer those unfamiliar with the relatively new school of Keido a way into it.

Could you read me the part about what the word Keido means to us unfamiliar Western Americans?

How about the part where it lists the names of the teachers teaching at this school founded in 1986?


If I knew nothing about Keido, this would not offer me a way into it. I do know something about Keido and I found no small blueprint into that complex world. I did find the part about how to greet a Japanese guest into a Japanese tea house useful if I ever have a house with an ajoining tea house......but I digress. The chapter about Kimura had absolutely no place in this book as nothing he does can be compared with Kiedo.
 
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jk_lewis

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We've long needed a book on displaying bonsai, but I don't think this is the one. It is exclusively Japanese display in Tokonome the waiting arbor (Koshikake machiai) -- and few western homes have either -- or anything that is an approximate substitute.

Bill V's International Bonsai Magazine has a page or two devoted to tokonome display in every issue and occasionaly full articles devoted to the subject. The tokonome displays are without exception, lovely. But again, of little relevance to western devotees of bonsai art.

I toyed with the idea of getting this book, then passed on it.
 

rockm

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"Could you read me the part about what the word Keido means to us unfamiliar Western Americans?

How about the part where it lists the names of the teachers teaching at this school founded in 1986?

If I knew nothing about Keido, this would not offer me a way into it. I do know something about Keido and I found no small blueprint into that complex world. I did find the part about how to greet a Japanese guest into a Japanese tea house useful if I ever have a house with an ajoining tea house......but I digress. The chapter about Kimura had absolutely no place in this book as nothing he does can be compared with Kiedo."

Jeez, why so sensitive? :rolleyes: I didn't say this was a definitive book on keido. I said it offers some interesting things--things that I haven't seen among the 300 or so bonsai books that I own.

Congratulations on knowing something about keido. Not many people do. That's one reason why I thought this book was interesting. I've not seen any other books that even mention it, much less offer any explanation (however small) of it. I don't know much about keido, but I found the information there worthwhile.

Why the offense about including a chapter on Kimura? I thought it was kind of interesting that he also carves rocks with the same gusto he carves trees...If the book is worthless for keido, why does Kimura have "absolutely no place" in it? I found the explanation of Kimura's "Creative Bonsai" interesting in light of all the talk about "naturalistic" and "traditional" bonsai. Kimura does neither...

Will the book make me a keido master? Hardly, but for $25 I didn't really expect it to...
 

Smoke

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While I no longer have the book to refer to, and if memory serves me right, I think the book mentions the word kiedo once, maybe twice. The sentence of that chapter starts out saying "the school of keido was started in 1986". Maybe you can offer up if it mentions the word keido after that I don't remember.

As far as Kimura, I think what the book offered in the way of carving granite was unique, but out of place in this book. In traditional keido principles the one thing that stands out is the removing of redundencies in the display theme.

Keido translates to "The way of looking at things". This meaning is philosophical, meaning that we are looking at each display as having a story to tell. Each component of the display is broken down to its simplist form. This is why in true keido display we most often only see a tree and scroll.

There is no need for accent because the scroll usually will tell the time of day, the time of season, etc. etc.

Forests are not bonsai. Forests are not often seen at Kokufu nor in Keido displays. Forests are to complex and stand on thier own, which is why including two of Kimura most controversial pieces grown on rocks simulateing mountains blew me away. To speak of the word Keido and trees on rocks in the same sentence is unusual. Suiseki are sometimes used in keido but only as object stones. Meaning an anthropormorphic depction of an animal or human figure. A piece of a mountain such as a waterfall, or the simulation of a house as in a hut stone.

A true mountain stone is never used in the Tokonoma when a tree as the primary object is used. Each competes for superiority being as powerful as the other. Meaning than when a suiseki is displayed in the Tokonoma it is asssumed that the trees are already there. In this case to display a mountain as a Keido display, the mountain is diplayed in much the same way as a single tree and accessories are added in the same way as a tree. In the case of Keido, a mountain and scroll again are all that is needed to convey the message.

So for Kimura to place a forest of trees on a near mountain view of rocks simulateing a mountain goes against everything Keido is about.

Someone wishing to really see what Keido is all about should work to find any books on Keido display. I have the first two books from the Keido school by first teacher Katayama. The school is now run by third generation teacher Uhaku Sudo. These books are from the first year of operation 1986. They are sought after and getting harder to find. Book one deals with Bonsai, book two deals with Suiseki and book three deals with both and some pots. I still need book three.

Some of the photos from book one.
 

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Smoke

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Some photo's of book two on Suiseki.
 

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Smoke

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As we can see Keido is about the simplist form of display expression. Kimura is nothing about simple. His ideas while beautiful are all about being in your face and a modernistic exaggerated view of impressionism.

Broken down to the simplist terms, there is nothing to add to a Kimura tree, he has displayed all the emotion in the tree itself. Anything added to the view of a Kimura tree is redumbnent. (my favorite term on Two and a Half Men).
 

grouper52

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Yes, I have had the book since Nov. 2010. I just gave mine away yesterday . . .
While I am a keido fanatic, I found the book fairly useless. Beautiful pictures, but I can see them all day long on the net for free!

Glad to hear that generous viewpoint, Al. Authors and photographers everywhere will be working even harder now to produce quality material . . .

Why should anyone want to pay admission for a bonsai convention, exhibition or garden: seeing someone's trees in person, and seeing them in a quality published form, and seeing them (pirated, most likely) on the net seem essentially the same to a great many people. Why even bother with photos of trees, or the messiness and prolonged effort of growing trees themselves- wouldn't it be much more "useful" just view really great virts on the net? Who the heck cares anyway, huh? Whatever.
 

Smoke

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Glad to hear that generous viewpoint, Al. Authors and photographers everywhere will be working even harder now to produce quality material . . .

Why should anyone want to pay admission for a bonsai convention, exhibition or garden: seeing someone's trees in person, and seeing them in a quality published form, and seeing them (pirated, most likely) on the net seem essentially the same to a great many people. Why even bother with photos of trees, or the messiness and prolonged effort of growing trees themselves- wouldn't it be much more "useful" just view really great virts on the net? Who the heck cares anyway, huh? Whatever.

How many times do you go to the same resturant when they keep serving you bad steaks?

I buy books that I can benifit from. This book was a presale from amazon, via email in August of 2010. The verbage sold the book for me. I recieved the book in Nov. and recently (yesterday) gave the book up for raffle along with a copy of Willie Benz's book on display. Benz is dated and the new book offered me absolutely nothing. My opinion. If you purchase the book and you benifit, great thats what books and opinions are for.

As for the tone of your post, did I strike a nerve or something? I have no beef with books or photographs. I also hope those that wish to write books keep on working very hard to get the books out that people are looking for. It seems that I am not the only one out there that would like to see some better books on display, as jkl mentioned.
 

Smoke

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oh...it occured to me that I had forgot you recently introduced a book to the bonsai public.

Tone understood.....I think you missed my point...but I can see why you were so skewed.

After this that is a book I guess I won't be reviewing....
 
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Sorry to let you know that the Keido School is now dead in Japan. I heard this some time ago in Japan and it was confirmed last week during my trip to Kokufu Bonsai ten.

Mr. Sudo, the second headmaster, is not teaching any more and has not been seen for a while.

The beautiful school building, shown in the book which was built by Mr. Sudo for Mr. Katayama (also was the Takagi Bonsai Museum) is now a noodle house. Such a waste! but a living must be made.

Although the Keido School is now dead, the teaching and philosophy still remain, only without a fromal name, headmaster or school for teaching. All the textbooks have been sold and are for sale at Kunio Kobayashi's Shunka-en Bonsai Museum in Tokyo. Great photos and Peter Warren has translated two of the three volumes into English.

It's very interesting that the arts of "keido" and even "saikei" are now more famous outside of Japan and are non heard of in Japan presently.

Bill
 

rockm

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"Sorry to let you know that the Keido School is now dead in Japan. I heard this some time ago in Japan and it was confirmed last week during my trip to Kokufu Bonsai ten."

That's a shame. I was interested in learning more about Keido and have been getting bits and pieces of information, but never the whole story.

"The beautiful school building, shown in the book which was built by Mr. Sudo for Mr. Katayama (also was the Takagi Bonsai Museum) is now a noodle house. Such a waste! but a living must be made."

Truly a sad turn of events. Murata's building looked to be a significant structure for bonsai history...


"I think the book mentions the word kiedo once, maybe twice. The sentence of that chapter starts out saying "the school of keido was started in 1986". Maybe you can offer up if it mentions the word keido after that I don't remember."

Um, you must not have read it very closely. The book mentions Keido more than two dozen times, but doesn't delve into minute details (no, there is no list of the first instructors, etc.) The book makes no claim to be anything more than an introductory guide to bonsai display. It sketches keido, bonsai terms (many more than I've seen in most bonsai books BTW), styles, how to view bonsai, bonsai theory and a few other things in broad strokes. It never says it is intended as a detailed guide to anything, but as a starting point for beginners to understand how to look at bonsai.

Read in that frame of mind, it is a very good book IMO, even for beginners.
 

Smoke

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I am glad the book worked for you Mark.
 

Attila Soos

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It never says it is intended as a detailed guide to anything, but as a starting point for beginners to understand how to look at bonsai.

Read in that frame of mind, it is a very good book IMO, even for beginners.

This is a very good point, the best a bonsai book can do, is to give us a few ideas and raise some questions. And inspiration is always a must.

Learning about any "bonsai school" (such as Keido) from a book, is the equivalent of the adventure of an armchair traveler. Imitating a few pictures doesn't mean that we learned anything other than a few cliches.
Obviously, this book won't teach anybody how to practice Keido, other than offering a few glimpses in the minds of a few bonsai artists. But those glimpses can be a precious treat. I can't get enough of them.
 
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