Saika Bonsai – Do You Count This as Bonsai?

May 11th, 2010 | By | Category: Featured Articles, Style

Saika Bonsai

I unexpectedly found a few videos called “How to make your own bonsai” when I was watching some other videos on YouTube last night. There are quite many videos on YouTube demonstrating bonsai techniques and sharing bonsai tips, but what caught my attention are that these videos I found are demonstrated by a Japanese girl, and what she is showing is not any traditional bonsai style, but a new bonsai style called Saika Bonsai (彩花盆栽).

Saika Bonsai (literally means colorful flower bonsai) is a modern bonsai style features combination of trees and plants with free-spirited pot design. And the Japanese girl – Kaori Yamada (山田香織) – in the videos is actually the fifth generation bonsai master of Seikouen (清香園) bonsai garden – a well-established bonsai garden shop that is founded in the Edo period (1848-1854).

For over a thousand years, the traditional bonsai art has created symbolic representations of the nature in small containers. Small trees are pruned and trained with tremendous patience and skills for years and even decades to achieve the look and ambiance of an aged tree in the nature. As a traditional Japanese bonsai practice, the bonsai, which often is a single tree, is formally exhibited in a tokono-ma (a wooden display space for flowers or art in a traditional Japanese tatami room). Due to the bonsai skills, the rigid rules and enormous patience required, it is found difficult to fit traditional bonsai art into the lifestyle of the younger generation as well as the city people today.Yet, with Saika Bonsai, Kaori Yamada has updated and rejuvenated the traditional bonsai art with a modern twist. Well matched to modern interiors, this new bonsai style has attracted city people nowadays, as well as women and the younger generations.

I like what Kaori Yamada shows in the videos and I definitely would like to give it a try and make a saika bonsai, but I won’t dare to call these potted plants as bonsai in the presence of my bonsai teacher, Wong Tsau Shing – a Lingnan penjing master and Chairman of Institute of Lingnan Penjing, Hong Kong. I might have guessed wrong, but I think Teacher Wong, like many bonsai artists, will criticize Saika Bonsai as not real bonsai.

How about you? Do you count Saika Bonsai style as real bonsai?

Here are the website of Saika Bonsai of Seikouen, as well as a post about Kaori Yamada.

And here is the link to the Saika Bonsai video – Bonsai: The Universe As A Tree Lesson 1 – demonstrated by Kaori Yamada. There are 3 lessons, and this is the first and the only one with English subtitle. You can find the other two Saika Bonsai videos on the left of the page in the Bonsai session.

Photo by Seikouen

One Comment to “Saika Bonsai – Do You Count This as Bonsai?”

  1. […] are more about Saika Bonsai: Happy Bonsai – Saika Bonsai – Do You Count This as Bonsai Happy Bonsai – Kaori Yamada (山田香織) – A Key Contributor to Saika […]

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