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House of Poets

^ The entrance. The beautifully maintained garden has handsome stepping stones and is in harmony with the characterful building. A splendid 400 year old red pine grows with a spreading branch. On the right side there are red pine, white pine, Japanese silverleaf and Hakonechloa grass.

Mountain hermitage serves as setting for a special bonsai exhibition

Beautiful autumn colours of bonsai and kusamono in a mountain retreat. A Haiku sacred place, ‘Sanro’ is a special place you can visit when travelling to Japan.

The famous Haiku poets, father and son, Dakotsu Iida and Ryuta Iida lived here, known as ‘Sanro’ or mountain hermitage, located in Fuefuki City, Yamanashi Prefecture. It has been lovingly protected to this day and is a sacred place for Haiku. Here, husband and wife team, Mr and Mrs Esaka, established professionals in the fields of bonsai and kusamono, held an autumn exhibition. It is, in fact, twelve years since the last exhibition was held here. That show was so well received and attended that they promised themselves to hold another one day. However, putting on a show and getting worthy displays proved very hard. As the months and years passed, the ideas and plans became firmer and eventually the long awaited exhibition took place. In a unique twist, each display was accompanied with a Haiku poem.

A room with a smoke tree (Cotinus coggygria) on display.
Mountain maple / Polypodium nipponicum. The brilliant colours of the maple stand out against the folding screen. The space within the tree gives an expansive feel, which is highlighted by the display.

Mr Esaka describes the problems faced in creating the exhibition. ‘For most shows where the objective is to win a prize, the key thing is to have an impact. There is no room for space.’ By harmonising with the grounds, the garden and using unique collaboration with Haiku, the possibility for utilising the space and imagination widens. The aim was to have bonsai trees that are suggestive rather than having impact. In a 5-7-5 syllable Haiku, language is pared down to the absolute minimum and the husband and wife team wanted to explore that idea with bonsai, looking at space and how that can highlight the beauty of bonsai. The old house is layered with history, making the air hang heavy. By combining with evocative verse on an autumnal day it could create a beautiful exhibition that reflected on days past, beauty and sorrow.

The empty autumn leaves make themselves brilliant
Ryuta Iida
Yamanashi
'With its stem picked, its ear droops fluffy and weighty, the susuki grass' The entrance to the main building with persimmon hanging out to dry. A persimmon bonsai, horsetail and Synurus pungens are displayed to give a welcoming and cheerful approach. The Susuki pampas grass displayed in the vase to the left reminds us of Dakotsu’s famous verse. This was prepared by the son of Ryuta, Hidemi Iida.

'Sanro'

The residence of the famous Haiku poets, father and son Dakotsu Iida (1885-1962) and Ryuta Iida (1920 -2007), in Fuefuki City, Yamanashi Pref. It is still used as the Iida family residence and maintained by them. The main building is from the latter part of the Edo Period, most of the main structures are exactly as they were when built. To the rear is an expansive bamboo forest through which the Kitsunegawa River flows. The thatched summer house, 'Gozan', was used by Dakotsu and Ryuta and was restored in 2019 and can be found across the bridge. The entire site covers 11,000 square metres, about 2.7 acres or 1.1 hectare. The garden is a private residence and as such is closed to the public, but open days are held.

Fudegaki (Sweet persimmon) / Reed and Dwarf Horsetail
When the tokoname potter, Mr Hiroyuki Matsushita visited the exhibition he saw his pots were being used for this Fudegaki persimmon. The two men, who have worked together for many years, have similar ideas and their work harmonises well.
The long yearned for public gaze returns once more for a late flowering
Ryuta Iida
Yamanashi
Right: Forsythia / Left: Chrysanthemum japonicum - Calamagrostis arundinacea | The Forsythia on the right is flowering well out of season and is a beautiful sight. The fragrant flower of the Chrysanthemum growing in the grass transports one to the fields.
'Are they tea flowers reflected in the clear water?' (Ryuta) Tea plant / Camellia sinensis
The leaves keep the flowers hidden from the autumn rain
Ryuta Iida
Yamanashi
'The wind chooses the fruit of the quaking dogwood' (Dakotsu). Asiatic dogwood / Solidago virgaurea ssp. asiatica, Aster microcephalus var. ovatus.
'The days and months of the funeral bell, the persimmon in autumn' (Ryuta) Komori persimmon / Pagoda. The solitary fruit remaining on the tree has a lonely beauty.
'The mountain winds soon turn flowers autumnal' (Ryuta) Chrysanthemum japonense var. ashizuriense. The folding screen with calligraphy inlays captures the beauty of the tiny flowers.
'The water becomes clear across the province of Kai' (Ryuta) Ibigawa ishi / Hibiscus Hamabo / Chinese Pistache. Ryuta Iida lived his whole life in his beloved Yamanashi (formerly Kai province). The quiet and grand scene painted by the Ibigawa ishi is reminiscent of the landscape. The tree in Japanese is 'Kai no ki'. Deep in the mountains, a brilliant autumn sky spreads. (Dakotsu)

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Publication dates

English language edition 2024Publication Dates
IssueE-MagazineEuropeRest o/t World
2024-1 #186 | #209- January /FebruaryJan. 1, 2024Jan. 15Jan. 22
2024-2 #187 | #210- March / AprilMar. 4Mar. 18Mar. 25
2024-3 #188 | #211- May / JuneMay 6May 20May 27
2024-4 #189 | #212 -July / AugustJuly 1July 15July 22
2024-5 #190 | #213- September / OctoberSep. 2Sep.16Sep. 23
2024-6 #191 | #214- November / DecemberNov. 4Nov. 18Nov. 25

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