THE HISTORY OF NISHIKI-MATSU BONSAI

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Nisikhi-matsu is one bonsai tree species native to Japan. This pine tree is widely available in Kagawa Perfectur area, but began to be exploited the bonsai in Takamatshu city, especially in Kokobunji township in about 120 years ago.

:: Nishiki-Matsu tree ::

:: Nishiki-Matsu tree ::

According to the saga that has been widely known, cultivation of bonsai trees started in Takamatsu during the Edo period, when local people dug up pine trees growing on the coast of the Seto Inland Sea and replanted them in pots. This was the start of bonsai in Takamatsu City.

Among the many species of trees, there are four spesies that make Kinashi and Kokubunji –both in Takamatsu City– known as the largest producer bonsai pine in Japan: Kuro-matsu (black pine), Nishiki-matsu (corkbark pine), Goyo-matsu (Japanese white pine), and Aka-matsu (Japanese red pine). Today, bonsai are one of the representative products of Kagawa prefecture.

“Now Nishiki Matsu is rare because this species needs special care, but nevertheless the bark of Nishiki-matsu is wonderful and so dramatic,” said Makoto Tsuji an exporter of bonsai and bonsai books whos living in Kagawa Perfecture.

Makoto said on BursaBonsai.com, Nishiki-matsu is the pine bonsai that launched mass bonsai production. The most interesting feature of this pine is the unique bark on the trunk. The rough, almost frothing quality of the bark fascinates people who see it.

:: Makoto Tsuji ::

:: Makoto Tsuji ::

As reported by Shikoku Shimbun, the pioneer of Nishiki-matsu bonsai are Kiichi Suezawa (1864-1931), came from the Kokubunji township which is also the birthplace of Nishiki-matsu bonsai. Several other men also devoted themselves to cultivating Nishiki-matsu trees during the more than 120 years spanning three eras in Japan, known as Meiji (1868-1912), Taisho (1912-1926) and Showa (1926-1989). All were great contributors to the Kokubunji township’s bonsai industry. Among them is the late Senji Hashimoto, who successfully grafted Nishiki-matsu in the late Taisho era. In later, his grandson Masahiro Hashimoto is one of only a few specialist Nishiki-matsu producers in Japan.

In the heyday … growers in the Kokubunji area devoted themselves almost entirely to production of Nishiki-matsu trees from the late 1960s through early 1970s. But Nishiki-matsu prices plummeted due to various factors, notably excessive production.

“Nishiki-matsu is sensitive. So it is not strong health, easy to die. This spesies are
opposite from Kuro-matsu (black pine). Perhaps because of easy death that Nishiki-matsu prices fall in the market,” said Makoto Tsuji.

:: Nishiki-matsu tree ::

:: Nishiki-matsu tree ::

According to him, most of the producers then shifted to Kuro-matsu (Japanese black pine) and goyo-matsu (Japanese white pine). Kuro-matsu is called the king of pine bonsai. The species is named for the black color of its trunk. The trunk, and the long, straight needles project a powerful beauty that has attracted a great number of admirers. Goyo-matsu has needles that come in bunches of five, just like a human hand.

Meanwhile, according to Masahiko Hashimoto –who still produces Nishiki-matsu trees, the prices of Nishiki-matsu trees, even aged ones, are relatively low compared with other products.

”But they are prone to worms and that led to a loss of popularity,” Hashimoto said. ”I want to make every effort to defend the tradition (of Nishiki-matsu production) of the Kokubunji area. I have begun to produce a new type of Nishiki-matsu whose blades are thick but short in length. I believe Nishiki-matsu trees will again attract attention if I can produce them at a convenient size.”

Currently Nishiki-matsu prestige far less than Kuro-matshu which is considered as a symbol of highest class bonsai in Japan because the tree is very popular and near with our life, also always green. “We can image Kuro-matsu are strong, avarable, grace mind. This tree is also robust, even though we were late in watering,” said Makoto-san. ::::: iwan@bursabonsai.com

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