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

Satsuki (1) Popular Shape: Best Season Come

June 6, 2016

 There are two types of bonsai: Shohaku (pine and juniper) and Zoki (deciduous tree). However Satsuki (azalea) is very popular among fanciers and treated as a special. May is literally the season for Satsuki. So the exhibitons of Satsuki are held in many cities. We interviewed Yoshifumi Onishi, the Chairman of Kokubunji Satsuki Society, about the typical tree shape and the attraction. Chairman Onishi grows about 100 pots of Satsuki on the rooftop of his store.

Moyogi Is Common

 The common shape of Satsuki is Moyogi that the trunk curves beautifully. Onishi's favorite one is "Kagetsu" which has been cultivated since 1993. He changed the pots once in 3 or 4 years. So now it has good pattern of Kokejun (trunk tapers toward the apex).

Moyogi "Kagetsu" which is 90 centimeters in height
Moyogi "Kagetsu" which is 90 centimeters in height

 There is other shape, "Netsuranari." It is a kind of "Kabudachi" which many trunks stand from a stump. The trunks seem to stand by themselves but the roots are combined. In contrast to Tankan (single trunk tree), it expresses the magnificent beauty like forest with the whole shape. The white flowers come out from the tree having 7 trunks named "Hakucho."

Netsuranari "Hakucho"
Netsuranari "Hakucho"

 "Neagari" is a shape whose roots are exposed above the soil over many years and seem to support a tree like trunks. As usual, it grows naturally on the soft and easily collapse field. But it can be made artificially, so ask artists about the technique in the Satsuki exhibitions.

Neagari "Sachi no hana"
Neagari "Sachi no hana"

Attraction of Many Species

 Onishi has also cultivated many pine trees since his previous generation's time. He says about the attraction of Satsuki, "The beautiful flowers can be enjoyed for a month. At an alley, it keeps growing with rain. And it won't be dead if an amateur cut the needles and branches. In additon, there are many species and new one is developed every year. So we never get tired of taking care of it," with a laugh, "And I feel the hand pain with the pine tree."
(By Shigeo Hano)
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