Typically there are no reasons other than amazing bonsai trees, beautiful accent plantings (kusamono, shitakusa) and stunning pottery to love and enjoy the art of bonsai. One of the downsides however can be the expense of this hobby. Established old bonsai trees can be in the tens or hundreds of thousand dollars, ancient and or hand-made pottery into the several hundreds or thousands and even the everyday needed tools such as soils, wire, bonsai tools, etc. add up over time. At times this can be a little overwhelming for most new hobbyists when trying to get started. Heck, even after several years of being consumed by bonsai it can still be a burden when dealing with cost. However, there is an amazing woman (and I mean amazing!) from Tokyo, Japan recently who went above and beyond to not only help out new/old bonsai enthusiasts but to try to give the Japanese bonsai pottery industry some recognition and revival.
But before we get started, let me give you a little history on a famous Japanese known bonsai pottery district called Tokoname. The city of Tokoname, Japan has been producing high quality pottery for almost 1000 yrs according to some sources online. These pots were/are all handmade out of high quality clays and had/have a reputation for being extremely reliable and aesthetically pleasing. Do to these properties, tokoname pots have always been in high demand within the bonsai community, especially outside of Japan where bonsai enthusiasts try to get the overall bonsai experience by having their trees in authentic Japanese bonsai pots.
Now here comes the downside…… because of this demand, a couple of things have happened. Since high quality ancient old pots are few and hard to come by, the price reflects it. This is what keeps the standard middle class (or less) enthusiast from affording one. So then we look into more modern tokoname pots (within the last 100 yrs) and still find that due to the attached name “tokoname” the price goes up, add shipping/insurance and we might as well look for another alternative. Over the last several years with the bonsai world growing, commercial pottery industries have latched onto the bonsai hype and have been mass producing factory made bonsai pots and making it extremely affordable and readily available for almost anyone to purchase. Now with that said, most of these are not near the quality and reliability as the older handmade pots, but unfortunately in the world today most people overlook quality for affordability. I myself am guilty of this.
Although in my opinion, there are some modern manufacturers that make good, affordable mass production pots such as Yixing pots from China (these pots are actually about 90% handmade according to their website). There are also many individual potters throughout the world as well but at times you run into the same scenario with high price due to the fact that they are handcrafted one-of-a-kind works of art (definitely worth the price).
So with all this said combined with other reasons (such as ease of selling on internet worldwide), over time the city of Tokoname’s bonsai pottery district has felt the pressures of the world and many potters/kilns have closed their doors for good and the region has been struggling to get back on the map as a bonsai pot producing giant as it once was. Believe it or not, this is also due to the declined interest of bonsai in the younger Japanese generations.
This is where “Yukimono” makes an appearance.
Yukiko Kasai (yukimono) is very fond of bonsai and its companions (kusamono, ikebana, etc). And she loves kimonos! She is also very fond of Japanese pottery and didn’t want to just sit around and slowly watch the tokoname pottery district continue to diminish. So Yuki teamed up with a Tokoname potter named Hidemi Kataoka and did the unthinkable! What better way to get your name out there and give a shout out to tokoname bonsai pots?? Free giveaways!!!!! That’s right I said FREE. Yuki decided to spread the word around the world by giving the 1st, 100 followers on Yukimono’s Instagram a FREE handmade Japanese Tokoname bonsai pot! And when I say free I mean totally free, shipping and all. The only thing that was asked of the people who received the pots was to spread the word to everyone they know, post a photo of their new pot on Instagram and tag “Hidemipot” in the photo. Not much asked back in return for a free handmade Japanese tokoname bonsai pot.
First, lets meet potter Hidemi Kataoka!
Below is directly from Yuki:
His name is Hidemi Kataoka, 47 years old. His potter name is Shuuhou（秀峰） ←It confused us. So I didn’t use it on Instagram. He is a specialist of glazed bonsai pots and has a kind of national qualification. He is the fifth generation as a potter in Tokoname. He is the third generation as a bonsai potter Shuuhou. He does not do very much bonsai but he is a veteran of Japanese flower arrangement “Ikebana.” And He know various plants very well.
SAVED THE BEST FOR LAST
And now for the amazing Yukiko Kasai (yukimono)!!!!!!!!!
Below is directly from Yuki:
◆Purpose ・I wanted every bonsai lovers around the world to see the beauty of Tokoname glazed pots with their own eyes. ・I wanted to prove them that they could buy Tokoname pots safely and directly from Japan. ・I wanted Hidemi to see overseas and remind that he was connected to the world.
◆outline ・I anounced the campaign on Instagram 27 April, and I closed it 2 May. ・I shipped Hidemipots to the first 40 applicants 7 May. And I sent rest of them 20 May. ・The countries I shipped: USA, Canada, Mexico, Brazil, Australia, New Zealand, Spain, Italy, UK, France, Russia, Sweden, Switzerland, Finland, South Africa, Singapore, Philippines. ・ 4 pots arrived damaged, So I sent again. ・Total cost that all I paid for this campaign was about $10,500.00USD.
In case you didn’t fully grasp that last statement…………
Total cost that all I paid for this campaign was about $10,500.00USD.
Gracious, kind-hearted, unbelievable, inspiring, understanding, loving, caring, awesome…… the list continues on and on about what i feel to be true of Yuki and how the rest of the recipients in the giveaway should feel 🙂
Onward to my pots………….
The following gallery is photos of the pots I received.
(click on first photo to enlarge and open gallery)
Now from my initial understanding, everyone who signed up was to receive 1 free pot. So I can only say that I was lost for words when I opened my package and found 4 free pots from Yuki. Not sure why she chose me to receive more than 1 pot but I can not even express my gratitude towards Yuki’s kindness. Currently I do not have any bonsai that I can pot into these amazing pots so I guess I just have to go on a bonsai shopping spree to find trees that will work well with these pots 😉
As I quote a fellow Instagram follower “Leaving these pots empty would be like having the perfect outfit hanging in the closet unworn!”. Obviously this came from a female 😉
However, there was no way that I would leave all these pots sitting empty so I at least planted a “Firewitch” Dianthus in the red pot for the time being.
And my wife had some begonias that I decided to plant in the larger pot for the moment. My wife loves this particular pot!
In time I will fill these pots with bonsai trees as they were intended for.
After receiving my pots, Yuki and I have been in communications with each other through email. I didn’t want to over step my boundaries with this post so I reached out to Yuki and asked her permission first in which she granted me, plus sent me the amazing pics of the pottery kilns above. She also was gracious and sent me the photos of the potter himself and some extra info about the giveaway she did.
So, before I come to the end of this post, I want to make everyone around the world that reads this blog aware of Yuki’s incredible generosity and of Hidemi tokoname pottery. Also I hope I opened everyone’s eyes to the modern Japanese tokoname pottery industry as well just as Yuki intended to do.
The least I can do is help advertise Yuki’s online Etsy shop where you can buy some of these amazing handmade Japanese Tokoname pots (from various japanese potters) and at a very reasonable cost. Click HERE to view Yuki’s Etsy shop and explore the beautiful pottery she has for sale.
I want to help Yuki, Hidemi and all Japanese tokoname potters out as much as possible so PLEASE as a friend and a reader, check out her shop and all fellow bonsai enthusiasts, find a pot you love from her store and add it too your collection.
Also Yuki writes a lovely blog in which she did a post on this very topic. You can read about it from her perspective by clicking “Yukimono“
Again, I can’t even express the gratitude I have for Yuki. If you ever stumble upon this blog post Yuki……. Don’t thank me. You are the one that deserves all the recognition and the thanks! And just so everyone knows, I am writing this blog post from my heart since Yuki opened hers to so many strangers.
To Yuki….. ARIGATO GOZAIMASHITA!!
Thanks for reading everyone!
(I am not gaining or receiving anything from anyone due to this post. Any advertising I have done was solely at my discretion and done completely out of kindness towards Yuki since she was so kind to me and many other strangers on a social media network.)