The Bonsai Art of Kimura 2

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Quick thoughts on this book since I received it yesterday and was done reading it by last night :( First let me start with the description from the Stone Lantern web site:

Every bit as good as the first volume. Though both show the master at work, the focus in volume 2 is more on how-to, step-by-step transformations and the thinking that goes into creating some of the world’s greatest masterpieces.

What it DOESN'T say is that this book is 95% reprints from Bonsai Today magazine articles. If you subscribed to Bonsai Today and/or own back issues, there is little new in this book. It should be viewed as a "2nd edition" to these original articles, since there has been some editing and commenting on technique. Otherwise, the subject matter is unchanged.

Contrast this to the first Bonsai Art of Kimura book, which was a direct English translation of parts of Kimura's first two books (The Magical Technician of Contemporary Bonsai, Parts I and II) and you will probably feel (as I did) that Bonsai Art of Kimura II does not begin to compare to the original. I feel that it is a disservice to have named it as a sequel when in fact it is nothing more than a magazine compilation.

I have purchased and enjoyed Stone Lantern's "Master Series" Pines and Junipers books, even though they follow a similar "take old magazine articles, dust them off, and reprint them as a compilation" formula. Perhaps this is due to the fact that they feel like reference binders - each tree genus is introduced, they talk broadly about care and technique, and then get into specific design examples. In the case of The Bonsai Art of Kimura 2, there is no unifying theme, and the articles are arranged in the book in the exact same chronological order that they appeared in Bonsai Today. The result feels choppy and ill-planned; like someone who has a lot of good material but doesn't know what to do with it.

My recommendation: if you don't have ANY Kimura book - buy the first!! If you don't have back copies of Bonsai Today, this book is a nice compilation of BT's Kimura articles. Otherwise it brings nothing new to the table.

I am concerned that this may be a theme for upcoming Stone Lantern publications as well. I am NOT planning on filling my library with more reprints of old BT articles.
 

Smoke

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Wow, I'm feelin deja vu all over again....
 

ianb

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Amen to that, got mine at the weekend and was more than a tad dissappointed:(
 

Smoke

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Ya know the movie industry goes to great lengths to protect the plot of a blockbuster movie. They make stars and extra's sign confidentiality agreements and scripts are recieved by couriers that make the recipiant sign for the package. The scripts do not contain the ending or are broken up into several packages to keep wandering eyes or stolen scripts from falling into the wrong hands.

The new Indiana Jones movie was partially fimed here in Fresno, CA. at Chandler airfield. An airfield built in the late fourties and has never recieved any facelifts so shows the marks of that era. It was perfect for the airport shots of a movie in the era of Indy. A local guy with the airport spouted his big fat mouth too much and was prosecuted by the studio and is in big trouble.

Now I don't think we need to take drastic measures as this for a magazine or book, But I was really dissapointed with both of the latest offerings from Wayne. Morten Albeks book as well as the new Kimura book. I bought the Morten book, and did not waste my money on the Kimura book. A little secrecy would make for a better reading experience and at least you would feel like you got your monies worth with new and never before seen pictures and text. I was so dissapointed with Mortens book since I have been doing shohin over ten years now. I suspected that the book would contain all the stuff seen at every forum and Bonsai Focus/Europe/Today of the last 4 years. I was not wrong.

Cheers, Al
 
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Collections.

Compilations.


Sometimes they make sense and sometimes they work, the best of Bonsai Europe is one example.

However, such books should be plainly advertised as being a collection and not consisting of original, never before published content.

But why are the publishers doing this? For a number of reasons including that it is cheaper, easier, and less labor intensive. However, the main reason is that no one is writing original stuff, well at least not enough to fill the needs of the growing number of bonsaist.

There is a demand, but no supply, so the publishers tap into what they can, mainly content that has already been published.

It goes back to the old saying which states that anyone can tell me what the problem is, but I want to talk to the man who can tell me what the solution is.

Or....if you're not part of the solution, you're part of the problem. ;)

I have the extreme honor of working with Robert Steven on his upcoming book, "Mission of Transformation" and it is refreshing to see new content being created and published. The energy Robert has and the rate at which ideas flow from his mind is truly inspiring.

Now there's a man doing something worthwhile and I have never heard him complain once.


As to Morten's Book, correct me if I'm wrong, but isn't this the only compilation of Shohin related information available anywhere?





Will
 
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Smoke

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Collections.


As to Morten's Book, correct me if I'm wrong, but isn't this the only compilation of Shohin related information available anywhere?





Will


Absolutely not. Kyosuke Gun has two collections of 8 volumes of books that are so amazing there is no equal. Mine are from 1992! Yes they are in Japanese but so brilliantly illustrated with Mr. Gun's drawings even a caveman could do it. Remember his drawings in Bonsai Today, well each book has about 20 projects in it that last 6 to 8 pages.These books will show you how to make bonsai. No soil recipes, no big words, no wabi sabi, no art speak. Just the nuts and bolts on how to take a seedling to bonsai over 5 to 6 years in 8 pages!

Brilliant
 

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Smoke

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I also own a very rare edition of Kyosuke's first book from 1977. It is in very good condition and a very near and dear friend gave it to me many years ago when I first started my venture into shohin. It has been invaluable to me the information it contains yet I cannot read any of it.
 

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Smoke

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I also own Mr Gun's last book from 2002 on mini bonsai Each of the projects in this book are of each tree pictured on his web site. Unfortunately Kyosuki Gun did not do any more work on his web site much after 2002. I had been following it for 5 years before that and it was one of the best sites of it's kind for many years. A site devoted to making bonsai, imagine that.

Cheers, Al
 

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Graydon

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Incredible books Al. Thanks for sharing and turning me on to a great resource.
 

ianb

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Collections.

Compilations.


Sometimes they make sense and sometimes they work, the best of Bonsai Europe is one example.

However, such books should be plainly advertised as being a collection and not consisting of original, never before published content.

Indeed, if this had been advertised correctly some of us may still have bought it but would not feel misled

But why are the publishers doing this? For a number of reasons including that it is cheaper, easier, and less labor intensive. However, the main reason is that no one is writing original stuff, well at least not enough to fill the needs of the growing number of bonsaist.

One caveat here, this is true for english language articles, BT though was built on publishing translated Japanese articles. I may be the only one but I would have been will to pay more for this arrangement to have been continued.

There is a demand, but no supply, so the publishers tap into what they can, mainly content that has already been published.

And so the slow decent into the toilet begins.


I have the extreme honor of working with Robert Steven on his upcoming book, "Mission of Transformation" and it is refreshing to see new content being created and published. The energy Robert has and the rate at which ideas flow from his mind is truly inspiring.

Thats cool, I have his first book and I'm looking forward to this one, any idea of a publishing date?
 

Attila Soos

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Wow, I'm feelin deja vu all over again....

I am glad that you've brought this up, Al. Now I know why I am happy that I didn't lay out my whole bonsai life on the Internet, like an open book, showing every stick in a pot that I had.:D

If I ever want to have fun and compile a book with my trials and errors in bonsai, I will be able to do it with trees that nobody ever saw on the Net.

Those shohin books are indeed a real treasure, thanks for reminding me of them!
 

Smoke

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I am glad that you've brought this up, Al. Now I know why I am happy that I didn't lay out my whole bonsai life on the Internet, like an open book, showing every stick in a pot that I had.:D

If I ever want to have fun and compile a book with my trials and errors in bonsai, I will be able to do it with trees that nobody ever saw on the Net.

Those shohin books are indeed a real treasure, thanks for reminding me of them!

If you only knew how timely your post is...
 
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Al:
The book you illustrated in post No. 7 was not written by Kyosuke Gun. It is a compilation of articles by different bonsai artists and Mr. Gun illustrated it.

This book is actually part of a three part series, yours is on conifer shohin bonsai. Another one is on flowering & fruiting shohin bonsai and the third is on deciduous shohin bonsai.

Mr. Gun is a very gifted graphic and bonsai artist. I believe he first began drawing for Bonsai World magazine in the mid-1970's. Then he began to publish his own small black and white illustrated magazine and when Kinbon began he draw for them too.

This is a great series of illustrated handbooks on shohin bonsai and I'm sure you enjoy and learn much from Mr. Gun's talents and also from the Japanese bonsai artists who actually authored the articles.

Bill
 

Smoke

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Thanks Bill, any information on the history of these books are great. I have many Japanese books from many years ago. Finding people that can tell you anything about them is hard. I have plenty of people that can translate the info for me including my teacher, but they have no specific knowledge about the books.

As far as who wrote them, I have no idea. The thing about the books are the illustrations themselves. Kyosuke does such a masterfull job at the drawings that anyones work would be able to be taught to someone thru illustrations alone. I think that is what makes any book illustrated by Kyosuke Gun seem like a book written by him. He is so recognizable in the bonsai genre.

How many of that book you think exist in the USA?

Cheers, Al
 
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I dont know if any of them are in print or available in the US or here in England but I found a bonsai book-listing site last night which includes ISBN numbers for various books by Mr Gun, and obviously other bonsai authors. I have a shortcut to the site and a birthday in June, so here's hoping!

http://www.users.uswest.net/~rjbphx/Books/19501999AJ.html

I love his work as displayed on the website with Sachiko Iwasaki, and would love to get hold of any of his books.

Hope this is useful. I was sure surprised to find this booklist list as I hadn't seen anyone on the bonsai forums linking to it.

Mooseman
 

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I have to completely agree with you bonsainut. I recieved the book around two days ago, read it in one day and felt cheated out of my hard erned dosh. I havent got all the back issues of bonsai today but have still seen most of that book before.

I have the junipers and pines book and these are great, and i dont mind the old articles, as the information is relevent to the subject.

I was seriously dissapointed, and "the magician" is not a patch on the first book.
I will be thinking twice about buying any more stonelantern books, as the three up and coming books look to be following the same format.

Si
 
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Thats cool, I have his first book and I'm looking forward to this one, any idea of a publishing date?

Sorry, I spent the weekend at the Michigan All State show...


Yes, toward the year end.

Advanced copies are being given out as prizes in all the current AoB and KoB contests.




Will
 
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Absolutely not. Kyosuke Gun has two collections of 8 volumes of books that are so amazing there is no equal. Mine are from 1992! Yes they are in Japanese but so brilliantly illustrated with Mr. Gun's drawings even a caveman could do it. Remember his drawings in Bonsai Today, well each book has about 20 projects in it that last 6 to 8 pages.These books will show you how to make bonsai. No soil recipes, no big words, no wabi sabi, no art speak. Just the nuts and bolts on how to take a seedling to bonsai over 5 to 6 years in 8 pages!

The books you mentioned here are good, but using the same sliding scale you used, they also have flaws, namely that they are not in English. Sure the pictures and illustrations are done well and much can be learned from them, however not having the rest of the story (the text) leaves you with only half the value. Hence you, since you can't read the text, can say there are no big words, no wabi sabi, and no art speak, but you might as well say there are no words at all, no text, you would be as accurate.

If these are the best books on Shohin available to the English speaking world, then no one should be bragging.

In response to your opinions posted here on this book and those posted on another site about Morten Albek's new book (http://forum.bonsaitalk.com/f11/shohin-book-different-opinion-28617.html), namely complaining that they are collections of previous articles from Bonsai Today and other sources, I have a few words.

[EDIT]Will - if you have an opinion, please share it. However do not simply attack the opinions of others.[/EDIT]

2) For those, like myself that have every issue of Bonsai Today, not having to thumb through over a hundred issues looking for only pine related articles is a blessing. Having them compiled (as in the Pines - Master Series book) is a valuable reference and the newly edited text in it adds greatly to it. Morten's Shohin book may well have been better if advertised as such, but the value of having all this information in one easy to reference book is huge. The same can be said of Kimura's work.

3) Whining and complaining won't solve a thing, doing so only serves to hurt the community. It wasn't so long ago that many complained that there wasn't any articles in the magazines from American authors, then they complained about the ones who did get published. I said then, the same thing I'll say now, anyone can cry about what the problem is, that's easy. Doing something to change it is hard.

4) Not everyone uses the internet, in fact it is a very small percentage of bonsaists that visit the forums at all. Morten's information will be fresh, new, and well received by thousands of aspiring bonsaists all over the world. Think of this book as someone who has never seen the web articles....and it's in English. In that aspect, it is by far the best English Language book available on Shohin. Period. No other book in English can touch this one on the subject of Shohin.

[EDIT]See my comment above - if you like the book explain why, but don't attack people who don't like it and who have shared their rationale[/EDIT]

Morten is one of the few renowned experts on Shohin in the world. He also has, for many years, given advice and knowledge for free on the internet. His own web-site is one of the most informative and inspiring on the subject of Shohin and attracts visitors from around the world. He currently offers critiques and answers all questions on Shohin over at the knowledgeofbonsai.org classroom.

[EDIT][/EDIT]

Myself, I'll take two books please, small price for all I have learned from this man. Thanks Morten.

Will

"Any fool can complain, condemn, and criticize.... and most fools do" - Dale Carnegie
 

Rick Moquin

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I am glad someone took the bull by the horn so to speak and provided an honest review of a publishing. It is not an easy thing to do. However that being said, we should not condemn someones opinion and dismiss it so readily.

There is talk "well stop complaining and do something about it", that sentence in my humble opinion has just as much value as any previous one. I am not condemning anyone for their views expressed here, just observing a discussion that really heads in no direction in particular with the exception of perhaps folks venting their frustration.

A few points were raised and they are reasonable ones IMO. If it is a compilation of previous articles, then yes why not advertise it as such. I have purchased Pines and Junipers knowing it was previously published content. I did not care as not having the entire BT collection it was a condensed reference on specific species and will continue to purchase said references in the future should a need an interest arise. The only problem I have with the books are the bindings which I do not care for, of which "the Pines" has failed within weeks/month after purchase.

I can also see the POV from some of the "veterans" out there, that very little "new" content is hitting the market. I find myself in agreement to some extent on this particular point, as adding fresh references to ones library is a daunting task. Once one has acquired the "bibles" there is very little out there to add to ones library. Even Peter Adam's book on "Maples" although a great reference lacked substance, so to speak. I expected more because of the title or are "we" just too demanding these days. Nonetheless a great effort was expended condensing various info under one cover.

I have yet to acquire either book at this point in time. I doubt that I will add Kimura's work to my collection. To some the flamboyant styling approach is inspirational, to me well, it just leaves me sort of flat. On the theoretical side of bonsai matters, I would be interested to know how much is lost during translation as substance seems thin or certain facets lacking in some of the explanations.

Morten's book on the other hand, if I was interested in growing shohin I am sure It would be added to my collection. His work was compiled under one cover for enthusiast to learn from. Now! I guess the question is? Is this reference useful for someone that does not have 10, 15, or more years under their belts? or is the information provided within a waste of time. I doubt my latter statement to be of any substance.

I recently acquired "Bonsai Secrets" by Peter Chan. Was it a useful book? Yes! Was it a great book? That all depends on the audience. Did I learn anything from acquiring such reference? Yes, some. Can it benefit anyone? Yes, it can be categorized as a beginner/intermediate reference, written and explained better than most books in the previously mentioned category. Should this book be dismissed? Heck no! It has a purpose, not to the entire community but will serve a targeted portion well. The price is extremely reasonable (in my case on sale) and the quality of content worth the book value.

Does it pale in comparison with Koreshoff, the Nakas, Lewis, and the like? Yes! But it serves a useful purpose. It is a well written, well illustrated and easily understood reference. Therefore a useful work for the intended audience.

I believe that honest constructive reviews with substance rather than venom, would prove to be far more useful to the community.
 

Attila Soos

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Good posts on both sides of the issue,

As for myself, I am so starved for new content and pictures, that I started purchasing old Chinese and Japanese bonsai/penjing books on e-bay, just got two last week. I can't read them yet (although I am currently working on learning to read in both languages), but at least they have some fabulous trees to look at, and some great drawings and diagrams as well. That's the best I can do for now, if I want to get fresh content. And I am sure that the supply from these Asian sources is endless.
 

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