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)(2)Yamadori (collections from mountains) and Shimagi (collections from islands) [Spice] beyond the technique of people

April 26, 2010

There are many ways of cultivating pine bonsai, including natural ways such as Yamadori (collections from mountains) and Shimagi (collections from islands), Misho (trees grown from seed), and artificial ways such as Tsugiki (trees grown by grafting) and Sashiki (trees grown by cuttings).

The end of an era

People in Kokubunji started Yamadori (collections from mountains) from a nearby mountain and gained a great additional income in agricultural off-season. The soil of mountains in Kagawa has poor quality. So it was hard to grow pine trees but the trees could have unique attractiveness.

Growers became scrambled to go to mountains and visited Mitoyo, Tsuda, and Hiketa area. At the same time, transportation changed from bicycle to motorbike, and then to motor three-wheeler and the trees were called, "Jitensha-gi (bicycle trees)" in those days.

Once the amount of pine trees had got fewer in the mountains in Kagawa, people went to get trees on islands of Seto Inland Sea. It was the beginning of Shimagi (collections from islands).

Though there had been a virtue that people must plant a seedling if they pick out a tree, trees in mountains and islands disappeared because of the development of bonsai trend, and the era of Yamadori was end. It was in the 40th year of the Showa Period.

Some people went to get trees to Korea but the amount of Yamadori (collections from mountains) decreased sharply from the shelves in bonsai growers. Today people grow old Yamadori (collections from mountains) bonsai with affection.

The trunk having unique tempestuousness of Shimagi (collections from islands)
The trunk having unique tempestuousness of Shimagi (collections from islands)

Figurative beauty of nature

Mashima Yoshimi, 64 years old, the owner of Mashima Horticulture Garden in Kokubunji town, has many Yamadori (collections from mountains) and Shimagi (collections from islands) on his shelves.

Concerning about attractiveness of wild trees, Mashima says, "First, they are old. They have a great individuality and there are no trees exactly the same. They have own unique attractiveness with Nebari (a condition of roots of a tree visible out of the surface of dirt), Tachiagari (the lowest part of the trunk from which a plant grows up), and the pattern of trunks. All depend on each tree beyond the control of people."

Mashima Yoshimi with his Shimagi (collection from islands) in Mashima bonsai garden in Takamatsu's Kokubunji town
Mashima Yoshimi with his Shimagi (collection from islands) in Mashima Horticulture Garden garden in Takamatsu's Kokubunji town

It is said that especially Shimagi (collections from islands) has better features of trunk surface and needles. The tempestuousness of trunk and its surface is also attractiveness of Shimagi (collections from islands).

Mashima thinks, "In the past, people cut only branches to use for firewood. As the result, there were good wild trees for bonsai."

His Shimagi (collections from islands) has many sharp stumps in the trunk. It shows us the figurative beauty of nature and wisdom of life.
(By Shigeo Hano)

Comments(1)

Lindsay FarrJune 29, 2010 5:33 PM

very interesting article

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