ARTISTS Here are the people who support the world's No. 1 bonsai culture in Takamatsu.

Hiroyoshi Yamaji(Yamaji Sanshoen garden)

March 15, 2009

 Hiroyoshi Yamaji, the second owner of the Yamaji Sanshoen garden, helped his father while he was in his childhood and brushed up his bonsai-cultivating techniques. ''It was a natural course for me to follow in my father's footsteps since Japan's bonsai boom was going on at that time,'' recalls Yamaji. In those days, there were sufficient bonsai materials -- an abundant amount of trees picked up from the wild. Many tourists and guests from major urban areas in Japan came to Kagawa Prefecture. A number of bonsai plants in containers were on display at souvenir shops along the approach to the famous Kotohira-gu Shrine, also known as Kompira Shrine, in the town of Kotohira near Takamatsu. Bonsai culture was flourishing.


Yamaji, sitting in front of bonsai containers on display, talks about how attractive bonsai are.
Yamaji, sitting in front of bonsai containers on display, talks about how attractive bonsai are.

 After succeeding his father as owner of the garden, Yamaji opened a website and launched his online business in a bid to develop a new sales channel to meet the needs of the times. Yamaji won customers not only at home but from the rest of the world through Internet transactions. He has come to deal in a wide range of trees in response to various requests from customers. Orders from abroad are on the rise.

 Goyomatsu (Japanese white pine) is the only one among various species of pine that can be exported to the United States and Europe. Yamaji puts his energy into goyomatsu trees, which are very popular for their delicate figure. He has won fame for his techniques in cultivating goyomatsu trees and has also been growing ''Nasu Goyo'' and ''Zuisho'' species of goyomatsu using the ''tsugiki'' grafting technique.

 He visits various parts of Japan and travels abroad several times a year to strengthen his personal human network. The Japanese term ''bonsai'' has become a universal word that can be understood internationally. International bonsai fairs are also held over the Internet. In such a fast-changing era as now, Yamaji says, he feels the need to look many years ahead and to transmit to the world the traditions and techniques of the key bonsai production center in Japan. As part of such efforts, Yamaji provides bonsai lessons for foreigners with his language skills and also goes abroad to give lectures and guidance on bonsai.

 Yamaji, who thinks bonsai is a time-consuming business, says he would like to see more bonsai gardens that offer characteristic products. He also hopes to see the bonsai network expand further at home and abroad. ''I would like to deepen and cultivate my knowledge by myself and to become something like a bonsai database that can handle any requests or questions,'' says Yamaji. ''My dream is to visit all the bonsai gardens throughout Japan.''

translated by Kyodo News

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