Random Stuff

I was browsing through a few albums and thought I’d post some random stuff you might like.


This is actually from last year when this tree was in bloom. Seeing this picture gets me excited to see it again in its full glory. This is a boke, a type of flowering quince which blooms in the winter months. It has thorny twigs and produces a fruit in the summer months. Be sure to cut the fruit off as soon as you see it. The tree uses so much energy producing them it causes the branch which it was growing on to die back. Boke is in the same family as choujubai but differs in a few ways. Boke has a smoother grey bark where a choujubai has a crackled  bark when old. Boke have a large leaf and the flowers may be a mixture of red and white where choujubai have red flowers. Choujubai typically flower very strong all year-long and boke bloom strongly in the late winter months. Boke do not ramify as finely as choujubai making them less expensive and desirable, but there is no doubt, their beauty is not lacking.

Next is a white pine display we set up specially for this stand. Oyakata got this stand among a large collection a client was parting with. It was in a fancy custom box and I immediately knew it was something good. This stand was used in the very first Kokufu exhibition over 86 years ago. It is made of boxwood, a wood that has a yellow appearance at first but turns darker brown over time. Being that it was made before the Second World War, it is especially rare to be in existence now. Most bonsai, stands, books and scrolls did not survive the war. A lot of Japans valuables were lost during this period, but this stand stood the test of time and man, making it all the more valuable.  Yeah, I wanted to give my right arm for this one! We pulled it out of the box and Oyakata wanted to see it in action right away. So we found this cascading white pine with exposed roots and it was a perfect match. He added the bronze statue of a bird and Yusuke hung a scroll of the full moon with falling snow.

It was a perfect combination!

It was a perfect combination!

Here is a close up of the stand, click on the picture to see it in detail.

stand close-up

I can’t imagine how long it took and how difficult it was to make this stand. On top of that, knowing a little more about its history and that it was in the first Kokufu, I could only wish this stand would end up in my collection. Oh well, a picture will have to do! It has long since been sold to a client, but it would be cool to see it again in a future Kokufu exhibition.

Sweet little pot!

Sweet little pot!

This is a small Sanshyu Ichiyou pot. I asked my fellow Japanese apprentices if they knew any history about this maker and this is what I was able to gather. Sanshyu Ichiyou was born in 1905 and died in 1985. His father studied pot making in Tokaname. Sanshyu, whose real name was Kamiya Tsunaichi, did as most Japanese children and followed in his father’s footsteps studying ceramics. Ichiyou soon moved to Tokyo where he studied at a placed called Kou-en. Later he opened a shop called Sanshyuya in a town called Ebisu, Tokyo. He sold many things bonsai related, but specialized in making pots. Many clients requested custom pots which he made. Soon he realized that he had a talent for pot making and began to specialize in making bonsai pottery, especially soba yuu pots (originally used for making soba noodles), suibans and ao-kouchi (green glazed) pots. Larger pots up to 40 cm can be found, but most of the pots he made were small in size, such as the picture above, about 5cm.

 ….Here is his chop.


A little shaggy tosho...

A little shaggy tosho…

This is a tosho, needle juniper, that I have been working on ever since I began my apprenticeship, about 4 or 5 times now. I began with cutting a portion of a branch off then used younger growth to reshape the area, and since have been pinching it when the new growth gets long and have wired many other branches. It looks much better now and it will be the subject of a future post.

project tree

project tree

This is a trident maple that Matt and I bought at last years Kokufu sales area. After taking the advise of our sempai Michael Hagedorn, we decided to do an air layer at the base of the tree and made it a project tree. We plan to separate it this year and do our version of the “Ebihara” technique…but this too will be the subject of a future post!


Here is a suiseki  made from obsidian making it an unusual suiseki. Most suiseki come from rivers and streams, but this rock is from a rock quarry/mine. Obsidian is a very brittle volcanic rock which often breaks to sharp edges and flat surfaces. We often display this around the tea room here at the nursery by itself on a stand and occasionally with an accent figure. I have seen a picture of this suiseki in an old book displayed with a tiny bronze pagoda sitting on the top. Very cool!


Here we are getting ready for the last Taikan-ten. We all had our cameras out as we matched trees with stands, scrolls and accents. I like these days about the best, when you get to see your work on display and get a chance to learn how to best display it.

This is one of the two trees I prepared for the show.

A red pine on display which I prepared for the last Taikan-ten

A red pine on display which I prepared for the last Taikan-ten

My pride and joy!

My pride and joy!

This pot has been one of the top joys for me as an apprentice. It is an Eshidei which means a purple clay pot with a painting on it. It is a Kowatari pot meaning that is antique Chinese and is at least 200 years old. This one is most likely over 250 years however. Eshidei pots (along with Aigon Rogins)like this one have been one of my favorite types of pots ever since I began to seriously learn about pots.  Typically each side of an Eshidei pot will have a different painting. Most of the times it is some sort of scenery on the front and back and a leaf, bamboo or similar close-up painting on the sides. I have also seen them with black paint instead of the white paint in a similar style as the one in the picture above, and those are normally much more expensive. I believe the majority of them have made their way back to China, and even now the white-painted ones are becoming much more scarce in Japan. Ocassionally now you will see an Eshidei and on one of the sides there will be Chinese characters instead of a scenery. These are much newer.  Shinto, as they are referred to, are made within the last 50 years. So this pot came into the nursery when a client needed some money and decided he wanted to sell this pot. Oyakata bought it from him and set it in the tea room on display. As soon as the client had left and Oyakata had given us our lunch break, I rushed to the tea room to check it out. WOW!!! I had to have it!!! After sneaking in to see it every chance I got that afternoon, I asked Oyakata how much he paid for it. He told me and told me a little history about it and where it had come from. “Such a rare pot” he told me.  I kept drooling over it till it was time to go home. Oyakata left the next morning headed to Tokyo for a few days and I was left to keep it safe untill his return! 😉 Over the next few days I couldn’t stop thinking about this pot. I think I even had a dream that Oyakata gave it to me…. Well I just had to have it, so when Oyakata got back from Tokyo I basically said to him ‘good morning’ and ‘I want that pot!’ He got a good laugh from that, but after I assured him I wasn’t joking we worked out a deal and the pot was mine!!!! I’m happy to say that after one very nervous plane flight, the pot now resides in my house in North Carolina. It is most likely one pot that I will never part with!

Here is another example of an Eshidei which happens to reside in my collection. Notice each side is different. It is also a Kowatari, antique Chinese. It has developed a nice patina over the pot.


In my next post I will be showing you this years Kokufu-ten entries we will be submitting for judging. I believe we have about 16 trees and fingers crossed all will make it in. This year there are about 50 less trees allowed in the show so judging will be much more difficult. Till then here is a preview…this is a tree owned by American Doug Paul, owner of The Kennet Collection…

Inspecting every last detail ensures perfection!

Inspecting every last detail ensures perfection!

As always, thanks for visiting!


This entry was posted in Around the Nursery, Display, Pots. Bookmark the permalink.

11 Responses to Random Stuff

  1. Brian VF says:

    Cool random stuff! Thanks for sharing.

  2. bonsai eejit says:

    Looking outside now at a blizzard I can only say that the first photo showing a splash of colour cheered me up 🙂

  3. John DeMaegd says:

    Thanks for shareing the beautiful pot with us! I too have one I recently purchased wich I will never part with. It seems to have 2 chop marks, or signatures. I assume one is for the potter and one for the scenery painter.

    • tylersherrod says:

      Thank you John! You are most likely correct in assuming that one of the chops if from the potter and the other is from the painter. I’d love to see some pictures of your pot and chops, maybe I could give you some more info about it! Thanks for you comment!

  4. japanesepots says:

    Very nice post Tyler. Really love those old pots! I’ve seen a lot about the 50 less trees in this years Kokufu. What’s the deal with that? I’ve read conflicting opinions, that there will be more Kichou Bonsai in this years show, that the selection committee is making it more exclusive due to dropping entries, Ect.

    • tylersherrod says:

      Thanks for your comment! I’ve really come to appreciate the beauty of old pots especially the chinese. Its so much fun building my collection, each one seems to hold a special place with me for some reason or another. Yeah there will be 50 less trees this year but it basically boils down to lack of space. stay tuned for my next post and I will try and give some more light on the subject! Thanks again!

  5. tmmason10 says:

    What a fun post. I love that pot and man I wished I had such a nice antique pot. I hope you keep posting!

    • tylersherrod says:

      I was a nervous wreck carrying that one home with me…not fun! I was so relieved when I finally got it in unpacked and displayed in my living room! There are a few post in the works so keep checking in! Thanks for your comment!

  6. There is a very curious and interesting history behind this wild vine, which is native to Japan and other countries in the East. These vines can pop up anywhere, as their seeds are spread by bird droppings. I hadn’t realized this before which is why I’m impressed with Tyler’s initial decision of the Suzume (Sparrow) scroll. Just goes to tell you, when making a display going with your gut and first instinct is usually the best thing to do.

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