May 19th, 2007

The Masterpiece "Hiryu"

It was called "God’s Tree" among the mountain collectors of Shimpaku even when it still lived on the rock walls of Mt. Myouji. Named "Hiryu" (Flying Dragon), the base of its trunk measures as wide as 60 cm (about 2 feet). The trunk of Hiryu is carved out by the harshness of nature, giving it a very mysterious shape which is beyond human artistry. Compared to the many outstanding Itoigawa Shimpaku found on Mt. Myouji, the imposing majesty of Hiryu demonstrates that it is truly a masterpiece.

It was 1983 when Hiryu was brought down from the mountain. Tetsuya Nakamura, a leader in the bonsai collectors' union, took a central role in collecting this Shimpaku. With several people, he tried to get the tree off of the cliff, but because of its large size and heavy weight, they were initially unsuccessful even after a concentrated effort. Although it seemed too difficult to do, they finally developed a detailed plan and, with a strong will, they succeeded in the end.


Itoigawa Shimpaku named "Hiryu."

Considering the fact that by the 1980s, all the naturally grown Shimpaku had largely disappeared from the wild, it was a miracle that such an outstanding specimen as Hiryu was still left in the mountains. This might have been because it was thought to be too big to be a bonsai. There were certainly pros and cons about taking Hiryu off the mountain. The name Hiryu, or Flying Dragon, seems to come from its rough trunk and winding Shari, and they are strangely vivid.
Following its successful transplanting by Naoji Itoh of Kotaki, still today it is being cultivated and pruned by Shoshin Nakagame of Shinzuoka prefecture. Let’s look forward to the day when it will appear on the center stage of the world of bonsai.
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