For those of you who love bonsai pots you quickly realize that there are very few publications in the U.S. that can provide you with a good reference on high quality Japanese or Chinese pots. When I started to collect pots some five years ago about the best I could find was the Tokoname site which didn’t give a lot of detail about the potter but does have a nice collection of fine pots.
I began to quickly realize though that even though these are high quality pots they simply did not compare to older or antique Japanese and Chinese pots. I began to search endlessly for web sites in Japan that sold very high quality pots often spending an hour a day researching what was available and trying to figure out who the potter was as I have no formal training in the written Japanese language.
Over time I found several sites that will be referenced today where you can find excellent books on very high quality bonsai pots. I realize in writing this post that not everyone is willing to spend the money required to collect these pots, but regardless I believe it is worth collecting some of the books that picture these incredibly beautiful bonsai pots.
I credit Boon Manakitivipart for instilling in me the value of selecting the “right” pot for the trees we own. I also marvel at Jeff Stearn and Kenny Lam’s ability to not only acquire high quality pots but their artistic eye in selecting the right pot for their trees.
The four of us are blessed that we each have a high quality pot collection and in a future post I hope to share some photos with you of those pots they have collected over the years.
So let’s look at a few books that you should consider purchasing:
Miyabi – A special collection from the Gafu-ten
This book contains 247 pages of both pots and trees. All of these pots are of the highest quality and originate from both Japan and China. Fortunately this book is in Japanese and English (one of the few) and is highly recommended as the book to purchase if you are only going to collect one book.
If you are interested in purchasing this book you can click the above picture to go the web site. For the rest of this post simply clicking the photo will send you to the site where you can purchase these books.
This is an excellent reference book and contains pots by Tofukuji, Kozan, Takemoto-Hayata, Harada-Houn (perhaps the best dobans ever made and the subject of a future post), and Tsukinowa-Yusen. Cost of the book is 6,000 Yen.
This is a small format book with 247 pages and includes a slip case and is priced at 6,800 Yen. The book is entirely in Japanese but contains incredible pots from both China and Japan and has many, many antique pots.
This is a 147 soft cover book with what appears to be someone’s collection but of this I’m not sure. It has excellent photos of pots both old and antique. It is priced at 1,470 Yen.
As you can see from the photo above this book is full of photos.
Charisma – Yusen and Kouzan
A softcover book with 143 pages of bonsai pots from Yusen and Kouzan and priced at 3,801 Yen. This is a book on only these two prolific potters. Yusen is one of the most collectible potters in Japan today beginning to surpass Tofukuji only because of the number of forgeries of his pots. Kouzan’s pots are also highly collectible, I’m fortunate enought to have one of his in my collection, and once you study his pots it is easy to identify them before you ever see the chop mark.
The next three books are published by Kinbon Bonsai. I would strongly suggest purchasing all three as they make an important part of anyone’s bonsai pot book collection. They are all softback books but in a large format making them both enjoyable to hold and read. Each are priced at 2,800 Yen.
Each of these Kinbon books are 208 pages in softcover format and full of beautiful pots.
No collection can be complete without this comprehensive book on Tofukuji’s pots. It is a softcover book with 144 pages of some of the most beautiful pots ever made for bonsai. This book also in Japanese has additional information on the potter including all of the chop marks used by Tofukuji as well as very old photos of his kiln and the master at work.
Well I hope you are encouraged to buy one or all of these books. With them you can begin to not only become acquainted with some of the best bonsai pots in the world, but it will help you to spot these pots when attending Kokufu-ten or other important bonsai shows in Japan.
If you would like more information on any of these books or more on how to acquire them, please post a comment on our blog with your e-mail address and we will be happy to get back to you!