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

Nishikimatsu (cork bark Japanese black pine) (1) Born in Kokubunji Attractiveness such as split trunk and air of ancient tree

October 19, 2010

 Kokubunji area is the birthplace of Nishikimatsu (cork bark Japanese black pine) which Mr.Kiichi Suezawa was successful in grafting and mass produce in the middle of the Meiji period. In 40s of Showa period, bonsai was popular among people and all growers in north part of Kokubunji grew Nishikimatsu (cork bark Japanese black pine).

Excess of production cause a price collapse

 Nishikimatsu is a variety of Kuromatsu, but it has own attractiveness such as the beautifully split trunks and the air like ancient tree. Since Kiichi's development, growers of Kokubunji had developed other types of Nishikimatsu (cork bark Japanese black pine) such as Nissin, Suehiro, and Kikko, and it was said "Kokubunji is place for Nishikimatsu (cork bark Japanese black pine)." But now Hashimoto Masahiro, the third owner of Senshoen Bonsai Garden, is the only grower in Kokubunji specializing in Nishikimatsu (cork bark Japanese black pine).

Hashimoto Masahiro taking care of Nishikimatsu
Hashimoto Masahiro taking care of Nishikimatsu

 In Senshoen Bonsai Garden, there is a Nishikimatsu (cork bark Japanese black pine) tree which is over 80 years old and grafted by his grandfather, Senji. And also there are hundred trees which was started to cultivate before the war. Hashimoto says, "In 40s of Showa period, the excess of production caused the price collapse of bonsai. The price of Nishikimatsu (cork bark Japanese black pine) is low relative to the years needs to cultivate so it is not popular among the growers now. But I think Nishikimatsu (cork bark Japanese black pine) is the Kokubunji's proud tradition. I will do anything to keep the tradition."

New variety under development

 Kagawa Bonsai Production Promotion Association started to sell the new variety of Nishikimatsu (cork bark Japanese black pine) in 2000 and it got a lot of attention. The name is "Yumenishiki". It has much attractiveness such the trunks split earlier than others and the needles of beautiful dark green. I will write about Yumenishiki in the other article.

 Hashimoto grows mainly Suehiro and Yumenishiki, and recently he tries to cultivate two new varieties. One seedling is graft which was cut from the mother tree grown from seed treated with chemicals and another is graft which was cut from the mutant branch having the needles like yellow.

 These two trees have thick short needles and trunks which split beautifully soon. It is said that trees having the trunk split soon are easily damaged by the pests but he solves the matter with his experiences of growing Nishikimatsu (cork bark Japanese black pine) for about 30 years.

Beautifully split trunk grafted 60 years before
Beautifully split trunk grafted 60 years before

The new varieties are under propagating and it will take a long time for many trees to be big enough. Hashimoto hopes these trees will be the trigger to regain the popularity of Nishikimatsu (cork bark Japanese black pine).
(By Shigeo Hano)

Comments(1)

Jon BrittNovember 7, 2011 9:47 AM

any way to ship to the U.S. ? Your thouths please.

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