Stone from Robin Hoods bay in England.

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Re: Stone from Robin Hoods bay in England.

Post  Chris Cochrane on Fri Nov 02, 2012 6:21 pm

Hi George... Congratulations on your anticipated residency in Japan. I hope you will not forget us when there. Do you know the area where you will be? Will you be teaching English (JET program or other)?

Perhaps, IBC members will know contacts (or processes) in Japan to assist you. In part due to local to "recycle shops," I had extraordinary luck in furnishing an apartment for year in Edogawa-ku (a suburb of Tokyo) while a bonsai-studio student. The things you will acquire in a year will likely return through partial container packing by sea freight, so the real difficulty in carrying a stone to Japan will unlikely be repeated upon return.

I once carried a heavy viewing stone (not a suiseki candidate!) similar in size to yours from the UK to USA. I collected it on the Welsh coast and named it for resemblance to bonsai artist Dan Barton's dog Goshin ("Spirit of the Forest"). In traveling to London, I needed to take a bathroom break at Victoria Station. The heavy stone (and only the stone) was in a backpack which I chose to leave next to a bench in the station rather than carry into the lavatory. When I returned it was surrounded by security forces/bobbies, who had assumed the unaccompanied pack was possibly a bomb. I was lucky to have been released after a stern warning & shaking heads. When carrying objects of heft under concealment in public places-- expect to appear suspicious.

You might consider transporting your stone in packing which can easily be peeled away for inspection. Security inspectors in airports will likely want to see the object. Scans of the ambiguous shape of a stone seldom clarifies what is enclosed. If it is an airplane carry-on, you will likely be asked for an explanation & informed to store it at your feet (not overhead). You'll similarly look suspicious with a weighty package where you land. You could save anxious looks by carrying it unconcealed in strong netting; passersby might think you daft, but you are better-approached as an "odd fellow" than a possibly dangerous one.

For description upon landing, no one is likely to recognize "suiseki." The term "ornamental stone" normally attaches to crafted products with associated customs' tariff. I might identify it as a "geological specimen" (not gemstone & not craft)... which is accurate & leaves enough room for the inspector to judge its value as inconsequential & pass entry. If a bonsai guy, you probably know that soils with organic material (including plant roots in soil) do not pass inspection; if the stone contains any soil debris, it is subject to confiscation.

Perhaps, you are aware of the modest range of stone forms recognized as "suiseki" in Japan. Lots of stones have evocative patterns, but only a few represent patterns sought for Japanese appreciation. Object-stones as suiseki are limited, too. For example, a stone in an "animal's head" form would not be considered an object-stone suiseki-- animal "form" stones must suggest the full body of the animal in suiseki appreciation. Pattern forms are also restricted in range.

Fitting such a heavy large stone with a daiza will be EXPENSIVE. You might contact Yoshi Nakamizu ( at Bonsai Network Japan (linked) to find an approximate cost. He can arrange for purchase of a fine daiza (Indian Rosewood seat) & kiribako (paulownia-wood box)-- the Japanese preference-- for a stone that Hideo Suzuki (craftsman Sean Smith's daiza teacher) is willing to mount.

... visit the U.S. National Bonsai & Penjing Museum, Washington DC USA--
Chris Cochrane

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transport stone to Japan

Post  kora on Sat Nov 03, 2012 6:26 am

Many stones are too big to take as carry on luggage-it really depends on the airline,security officers-they are known to be irrational.If they don't accept it, you are kind of stuck, because then you either have to go back to check in to have the stone checked or have it confiscated. If you pack the stone well, wrapping it in bubble wrap or cloth, then place it into a sturdy box-with either crumpled newspaper of styrofoam "peanuts" before placing it into your suitcase-that should work-important is a sturdy cardboard box-and plenty of padding. I always secure my luggage with a plastic cable stay-then ,if they open the suitcase, at least I know, someone has been in there and taken a look. Good luck and all the best, transporting your precious cargo to Japan-it is a lovely stone. kora


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