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The Practice of Naming Bonsai... Whirlpool Is Obvious Enough, but It's Not Always That Simple

07/12/20

Koryo is the given name of this Japanese maple. No translation is given, but one possibility in 'consideration' as in 'worthy of consideration,' but that's just a guess on my part. Its estimated age is 120. The photo is from The Omiya Bonsai Art Museum in Saitama, Japan 

In North America most people don't name their bonsai. Or if they do, I don't know about it. However, in Japan naming seems to be a fairly common practice. Especially with very old trees. Or so it seems...

This morning I went through a couple dozen photos from The Omiya Bonsai Art Museum and found five that had names listed. All five are over 100 years old and my guess is that this is no coincidence. As top quality bonsai age and develop more and more character and fame they become worthy of names (you might imagine this has to do with repeatedly showing up in top shows and receiving high accolades)  

  

Koryo, a closer look

 

This Japanese black pine is called Seiran, which in this case it might be 'star.' Though if you really care, you might look up the Kanji (Omiya shows it) and do your own research. The estimated age is 120 years

 

 Seiran, a closer look

 

Seijaku is the name given to this Japanese white pine. Nothing came up in my cursory search under Seijaku, but looking at the Kanji given with Omiya's name, 'silence' might work (please don't take this to the bank, I don't read Kanji and can only guess)

 

Seijaku's estimated age is 200 years  

 

This Japanese black pine with its trunk fused to a rock is called Zuiko. You might want to do your own research (it's complicated). The tree's estimated age is 120 years

  

 Zuiko, close up

 

Saving the granddaddy for last. It's Japanese white pine called Uzushio with an estimated age of 500 years. There doesn't seem to be any ambiguity about the name... Uzushio means 'whirlpool' 

 

Whirlpool, close up 

 

Here's a photo from a post we did in 2015 on this same tree. In that post I called it 'Whirlpool Dancer' (I'm not sure where I got the Dancer part). It is also featured in our Masters Series Pine book (see just below) in a chapter titled, 'Jewel to Whirlpool'

 

Masters Series Pine Book
Available at Stone Lantern

 


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