The one and only challenge in the bonsai world
Mr. Ito is a unique figure in the bonsai world. The reason why he is unique is because he is trying to be a two-way player. Like Shohei Otani, who challenged the majors in baseball, he is aiming to be both a top pitcher and hitter, and he is doing it with bonsai. It is a tremendous challenge. Of course, there is no other bonsai craftsman like Mr. Ito.
In general, the bonsai craftsman and the potter are two separate jobs, not like baseball where the pitcher and the batter exist within the same rules, but completely different customs and habits.
A choice after much thought to master the path
A bonsai craftsman chooses a bonsai pot made by a potter based on the shape and atmosphere of the tree he has created, and plants it to make a bonsai. At first, Mr. Itoh chose and used the pots made by the craftsmen, but one day, when he saw the bonsai trees lined up on the shelves, he began to feel uncomfortable.
One day, however, he began to feel uncomfortable when he saw the bonsai trees on the shelves. He thought that the pots were not suitable for the trees he was making. As soon as he began to feel this way, he couldn't stand still and began to study ceramics while working as a bonsai craftsman. Shikoku Chuo City is not far from Bizen in Okayama, and there was a potter nearby, so he was able to learn in earnest.
What does a bonsai craftsman think is the best pot for bonsai?
"After about a year of going through the process, I installed a full-scale pottery kiln in my bonsai workshop and set about creating a pot that satisfied me. There is surprisingly little interaction between bonsai craftsmen and pot makers. There is not much opportunity to exchange opinions, and each person has been making what he or she is satisfied with. Therefore, there are many times when their personalities clash."
Mr. Ito, who has been a craftsman for 40 years, says he sees no end in sight. When I asked him if it was difficult for him, he replied without pausing to think, "I enjoy what I do, so I've never thought of it as a hardship."
A wide variety of unique works
The pots he makes are authentic pottery made from Bizen clay. There are not many bonsai pots in Bizen ware. Bizen Pottery is a high-class pottery, and relatively inexpensive ceramic pots were not made. Mr. Ito's bonsai pots are unique among bonsai pots because of the rich texture and soil of Bizen. He also makes not only pots but also accessories and ornaments for bonsai, and many fans look forward to his works.
Unique Bonsai Production
Mr. Ito produces bonsai from seeds and handles many small bonsai. The trunks are bent to give them an air of elegance, and the way he bends them is also unique to him. In general, trunks are straightened with wire or sticks, but it is difficult to bend the trunk as desired because the wire marks remain and the direction of the bend cannot be precisely controlled. Mr. Ito has come up with a way to bend the trunks in a complex way without leaving wire marks. He has succeeded in creating a bonsai that is different from others by using a different method. The method is a trade secret, so I was not able to ask him about it in detail, but he said that there is no shortage of bonsai craftsmen who come to learn about his production method.
Doing one's best every day
There is a barbell at the back of the workshop, and he works out every day. "It takes a lot of strength to make a big pot," he says. I can't stop feeling excited, for I have a feeling that the works created by Mr. Ito will continue to evolve.
- 742 Shimobun, Kinsei-cho, Shikokuchuo City, Ehime Prefecture