BONSAI WORLD A series of articles by The Shikoku Shimbun focuses on the attractions of bonsai which encapsulate small universes in containers.

Goyomatsu (Japanese white pine)(3)Grow bonsai to be small, Emphasize curve than thickness

March 1, 2010

At Kitatani Yojoen bonsai garden in Takamatsu's Kinashi town, the third owner, Kazuhiko Kitatani, and the forth owner, Ryuichi, grow some old Goyomatsu (Japanese white pine) and Kuromatsu collected from mountains and islands. There is the Nishikimatsu (thick-barked black pine) won the award in past Taikan-ten exhibition at this famous garden.

Feelings for Bonsai in the pot

"The owner two generations ago had focused on Goyomatsu (Japanese white pine)", Kazuhiko said. He has his own bonsai sense, 'Bonsai in the pot is the real Bonsai."
People used to think bonsai should be big and thick, but the past owner valued bonsai even if the trunk is thin but it had beautiful curve. The past owner may think people read the 'Wabi' and 'Sabi' of trees with the curve and 'Kokejun', means a trunk tapers toward the apex.

If you grow Goyomatsu in the field naturally, it will be higher about 10 centimeters in a year. That is to say, if you spend 20 years to grow the tree, the height will be about 2 meters. Kazuhiko takes care of the trees, prunes the apex and change the branch to thinner one again and again. So the Goyomatsu (Japanese white pine) grafted before the World War Ⅱby the owner two generations ago is only about 1meter and 20 centimeters height. It is bigger than the normal bonsai trees but it can be planted in the pot about 76 centimeters in diameter.

Kazuhiko Kitatani with 80 year-old Goyomatsu(Japanese white pine) in Kitatani Yojoen in Takamatsu's Kinashi town
Kazuhiko Kitatani with 80 year-old Goyomatsu(Japanese white pine) in Kitatani Yojoen in Takamatsu's Kinashi town

The importance of 'Edagime'

Of course it is important to wire the trunk, but 'Edagime' is also important for bonsai. 'Edagime' means to remove the branches which is imbalanced and unnecessary. The technology requires a long experience and knowledge. If the 'Edagime' works well, it can be the good bonsai without wiring. In Kitatani Yojoen bonsai garden, there are many such Goyomatsu.

Most of the Goyomatsu trees grown in Kinashi town are Ginyatsu of Miyajima island type which is popular because of the thick 'Nejikan' (the crooked trunk). You can keep the beauty by thinning the thick trunk out. Through the years, you can't find the grafted part and that type of Goyomatsu (Japanese white pine) is considered as the best one.

The grafted part of Goyomatsu (Japanese white pine) was hidden through the years.
The grafted part of Goyomatsu (Japanese white pine) was hidden through the years.

Kazuhiko says, "I think the Goyomatsu (Japanese white pine) in my bonsai garden have shorter needle than normal one. I guess it's because the past owner used suitable graft tree and the trees have never been grafted with other kinds of trees."
(By Shigeo Hano)
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