Some thoughts on the state of the bonsai business world.

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Some thoughts on the state of the bonsai business world.

Post  Billy M. Rhodes on Wed May 01, 2013 7:57 am


Some thoughts on the state of the bonsai business world.
This comment is partly initiated by the closing of the Bonsai By The Monastery mail-order business. Bonsaimonk.com has been a source of quality, reliable mail-order bonsai supplies for many years but that has ended and the only the retail business in Conyers, GA remains. This is a shame, but businesses do evolve.
Like a lot of other things production of Bonsai supplies is shifting, mostly to China and the quality of Chinese production is improving.
All ceramic production in Tokoname City, Japan is shifting overseas and kilns are closing. This not only applies to Bonsai pots. When I was in Tokoname City in the fall of 2011 our guide was the head of the ceramics guild. His family made bathroom ceramics, not Bonsai pots, but all of his production was even then in Vietnam. So, if you value Tokoname City made Bonsai pots buy and hoard what you can.
However, the Chinese product is improving. Last week in the Shanghai, China stone market I saw some really nice, small pots. I asked the price and was quoted 800 Yuan, or about $120 US dollars. Now in China the quoted price is, at least, double the real price, but even at $60 US dollars the price was on a par with quality Tokoname City Bonsai pots. I didn’t try to bargain, partly because of time constraints and partly because I don’t NEED any more pots.
I think the same applies to Bonsai tools, although when I was in Japan I didn’t notice any shortage of quality Bonsai tools at reasonable prices, I think the quality of Chinese tools is greatly improved. On my recent trip to China (April, 2013) I purchased some quality, stainless steel, Bonsai shears and although time will be the best judge, I think they are of good quality.
Akadama and Kanuma are Japanese soils imported for Bonsai use. Akadama is a general use soil and Kanuma is used with Azaleas and other acid loving plants. It has been rumored that the US government has blocked these products. I don’t use these very expensive, imported soils. It has been suggested that the import difficulties might be related to the nuclear disaster in Northern Japan, and a fear that the soils might be radioactive. An Internet search will reveal that Akadama is available, for a price.

Billy M. Rhodes
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Re: Some thoughts on the state of the bonsai business world.

Post  rockm on Wed May 01, 2013 1:23 pm

The rumored blocking of Akadama had to do with soil sanitation requirements, not radioactivity from what I've heard. The soil wasn't sanitized adequately for import requirements because the supplier of the stuff in Japan had changed hands.

It's a shame about BonsaiMonk. I have ordered a number of pots from them over the years.

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Re: Some thoughts on the state of the bonsai business world.

Post  Guest on Wed May 01, 2013 2:27 pm

"Bonsai business world" is a microcosm of the "real business (manufacturing) world."

..but prices in China are not that cheap anymore.




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Re: Some thoughts on the state of the bonsai business world.

Post  Billy M. Rhodes on Wed May 01, 2013 3:42 pm

jun wrote:"Bonsai business world" is a microcosm of the "real business (manufacturing) world."

..but prices in China are not that cheap anymore.

This is true but I bought a set of Ryuga shears in Yangzhou for $20 US, listed by US vendor at $77. (Does not include cost of round trip plane ticket from Florida to China.)

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Re: Some thoughts on the state of the bonsai business world.

Post  Russell Coker on Wed May 01, 2013 3:51 pm





Wow, that's an obscene mark-up.

I think Tokoname is a victim of their own success and the glut they created. Why order a new pot when you can get a really good deal (including the shipping from Japan) on a super quality high end pot with patina off ebay?

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Re: Some thoughts on the state of the bonsai business world.

Post  Khaimraj Seepersad on Wed May 01, 2013 8:50 pm

Billy,

any well trained potter can make a good pot, even if one is just using an exterior press mould.
[ I still have my Tokoname catalogue sent to me by Edzard T. back in 2000 or so, all pots styles easily seen.]
Additionally, you can get chemical breakdowns of genuine Yi xing clay, and can come up with a good copy [ the Chinese do - Laughing ]

To be frank, I really don't see any reason to bat an eye, even with our situation down here of low interest in Bonsai pots or other, one can adapt easily. You can easily sand cast your own tools if you wanted too, there are more than enough books on how to.

Any jeweller worth his salt has equipment to make copper wire or aluminum. I work with bronze and it is no big deal.

Convenience is a bad state to be in, as well as pre-packaged lifestyles.

As I have tried to show on-line, Bonsai is still a low to zero cost hobby.
Later.
Khaimraj

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Re: Some thoughts on the state of the bonsai business world.

Post  marcus watts on Wed May 01, 2013 11:03 pm

as with everything in life you really do get what you pay for (either in money or time) and it is our free choice to pay as much or as little as we want (or are able) in this hobby.

tools - - you can pay a little, use them a year or two hopefully, throw them away.....you can pay a lot more and if you are lucky they last 5 years or even more if its a tool not used much - the quality of the tree does not change much based on the tool used though so buying top end tools wont make you a bonsai master....

pots are more like collecting and speculating on antiques - new trees are fine in new pots - it is only when a tree is finally ready for proper show that I think the more nationally unique and special the tree is (plus the more important the exhibition) the more deserving it is of an equal pot. mass produced are perfect for home viewing - but who wants their tree in a pot the same as 100's of others when it is on public display?

the akadama rejected was full of roots, twigs and organic matter.......the USA seems to maintain stringent standards on imports and hats off to them for it -for the record i would include akadama in virtually every bonsai soil mix i use - it gets long term proven results with mature specimen trees so why compromise a tree worth potentially thousands to save $20 on soil ?

shame the retail shop closed Billy - another will fill its place, they always do Very Happy

cheers




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Re: Some thoughts on the state of the bonsai business world.

Post  Khaimraj Seepersad on Wed May 01, 2013 11:35 pm

Marcus,

as I understand it, China has very strict rules on anything over 100 years old leaving the country.

I have had a small size concave pruner, Masakuni since the 80's. They were about $20.00 US then and I am not sure just when iron became a scarce element on the planet.

I know you guys think the world of Akadama, but I am not convinced, that refinement is confined to one soil type or great designs. Most of the time I look at these situations as failure to adapt.

Bought quite a few pots from Bonsai at the Monastry, service was always good and I never had a complaint on the products. However, we can still get pots from Lotus International. The designs are simple, pot colour good and once again no complaints.

Most of the time I think folk [ as pots go ] are being set up, lots of hype and nonsense. Pots are functional, when they become high craft, they belong on shelves or in cabinets for admiring.
However to be truthful I am a Percival David Foundation guy as pottery goes.

Perhaps I have been doing this hobby for too long and it's like breathing.
Later.
Khaimraj

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