Private Japanese bonsai collections may not look like how you expect them to look like. Always we watch photos showing great bonsai at Japanese exhibitions, and from professional nurseries. I think many enthusiasts have a belief that all bonsai in Japan are that great. They are not.
The level of bonsai
Walking the streets of Japan exposes ordinary enthusiasts collections being far more average than one might think. Why is that important to tell? Because it is important to know that the small bonsai hobbyist at home is not that far behind the Japanese hobbyist, that doesn’t have her/his trees taken care of at a pro nursery. Or do not have the money to spend at expensive material.
Bonsai have value at all levels. We seek, of course, to do the best possible and strive for excellence. The enthusiast who just wants to spend time and joy on their bonsai, and do not have the money for expensive trees, probably have the same joy as the one who invests in prestige and prices.
I have always enjoyed bringing up bonsai from good, but not expensive material. I find great pleasure in developing trees from quality material I find in nurseries. Or buying less expensive pre-bonsai, and taking them the next steps. It takes a lot of time of course, but the journey and fun doing it, makes it worthwhile.
Would I throw in money and buy expensive trees if I could? Of course. But I may not have the same relationship with my trees, lacking the history and satisfaction of doing the job myself. It is great pleasure to walk in the bonsai garden, knowing the history and development of every tree.
Below a gallery showing ordinary bonsai seen of the streets of Japan.