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

Kuromatsu (Japanese black pine)(1)Attractiveness and Characteristic Negligence of Mekiri (bud trimming) ruins the shape

April 26, 2010

We start a series about Matsu (pine) bonsai with interviews of bonsai growers about attractiveness, characteristics, trends, future issues, and visions in order of Kuromatsu (Japanese black pine), Goyomatsu (Japanese white pine), Nishikimatu (cork bark Japanese black pine), and Akamatsu (Japanese red pine).



Kandaka Keiji with his wonderful bonsai at Kandaka Shojuen bonsai garden in Takamatsu's Kinashi town
Kandaka Keiji with his wonderful bonsai at Kandaka Shojuen bonsai garden in Takamatsu's Kinashi town

Magnificent appearance like a "King"

Kuromatsu (Japanese black pine) is called "King of bonsai" after its magnificent appearance with thick trunk and black brown bark. Many bonsai lovers like this tree because of its vitality and the simplicity for growing. Most excellent works of recent bonsai exhibitions use Kuromatsu (Japanese black pine).

Kandaka Keiji, 48 years old, forth owner of Kandaka Shojuen Bonsai Garden in Takamatsu's Kinashi town, says "Compared with Akamatsu (Japanese red pine)which grows at inland and mountainous region, Kuromatsu (Japanese black pine) grows everywhere including public places such as shrines, scenic spots, and coastline so it matches Japanese scenery. It is the most common tree grown in Kinashi."

Kandaka says the greatest charm of Kuromatsu (Japanese black pine) is the style of split of Mikihada (trunk surface). Some splits are over 10cm wide in the trunks of 100-year-old and 200-year-old trees. Others have patterns like turtle shell. However people can take care of the shapes of branches to some extent, the styles of trunks and splits depend on each tree beyond the control of people. It is also attractive for growers that they can't know how the tree grows.

Beautifully split Mikihada (trunk surface) and Nebari (a condition of roots of a tree visible out of the surface of dirt)
Beautifully split Mikihada (trunk surface) and Nebari (a condition of roots of a tree visible out of the surface of dirt)

Tendency of days influences trends

Even many Kuromatsu (Japanese black pine) are over 200 year-old, its trends come and go. Once there were some trends toward Neagari (trees with roots exposed on the surface of dirt), Kengai (trees whose apex dangles down from the bottom of a pot), and Chokkan (trees with a single upright trunk), but Kandaka expects the tendency toward Moyogi (trunks draw curves in patterns) will develop in the end.

Nowadays people tend to like medium-sized trees around 45cm height or Shohin (small-sized) and it seems that the tendency is influenced by the size of garden and change of lifestyle.

Cares throughout the year

There are three main points to take care of Kuromatsu (Japanese black pine). For keeping its beautiful shape, it is necessary to do Mekiri (buds trimming) around June 20th. Without this care, the tree will lose its shape. Then growers begin to thin out the old needles in fall. The works of Hasukashi (thinning out the needles from the leafy part by tweezers) and transplanting and cutting the roots every 3 or 4 years are also important cares.
(By Shigeo Hano)

Comments(1)

TURPIN PhilippeApril 22, 2012 1:29 AM

very good !
do you understand french ?
i'm very interresting by the culture of Kuromatsu
thank !

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