FoBBS Members Go To Japan

November saw a sizeable group of British bonsai enthusiasts visiting the ASPAC (Asia Pacific  Bonsai Congress) in Takamatsu, Japan. A quite extraordinary Congress was held in the brand new Convention Centre in the city of Takamatsu, southern Japan. The line-up of Japanese demonstrators was like something from a Japanese ‘Who’s Who’ of bonsai demonstrators, and led by Masahiko Kimura, they more than lived up to expectations.

An extensive Trade area in two enormous marques as well as the forecourt of the Convention Centre had the whole party drooling at the amazing material, pots, suiseki, finished bonsai and every other  possible bonsai need that could be purchased at what, to many, seemed silly prices.

Just a few of the goodies to be selected from:

A major highlight of the trip was the second week trip to Taikan-ten Exhibition in Kyoto where the quality of the trees was, if anything, higher than at Takamatsu and the extent of the trade area almost beyond belief. Unfortunately, as in Japanese major exhibitions, photography was banned, so at this stage no pictures. I may be able to acquire some at a later stage from one of the official photographers.

However the envious must remember, Japan is a long way away and costs from there to the British Trader’s stand are considerable.

Costs to bring trees from Japan

  • Selecting trees
  • Flights to Japan
  • Hotel costs etc.
  • Transport to nurseries
  • Agent fees (many days).
    • Agent’s percentage on trees purchased.
    • Agent’s fees for shipping and paperwork in Japan.
    • Agent’s fee usually 40% - 50% and based on total cost on what you buy.
  • Cost of trees. (plus 40%-50% agent fees)
  • Bank fee for wire transfer of money to Japan.
  • Shipping container - £2,500.
    • UK docks handling fee on refrigerated container off ship,
    • Lorry and container transport to address.
  • Duty paid on the consignment.
  • Each item has a commodity code, i.e. tools, soils, wire, trees. Averaging 6%-8%.   
  • Plus 20% VAT which is calculated on the total of trees, container and shipping.
  • Quarantine
    • Minimum of two visits by DEFRA to inspect trees.
    • Inspectors fees.
    • If trees have to be re-potted in quarantine there are soil costs.
    • 10% of trees randomly cut in half for health inspection  thus loss of revenue.

All conifers sit in quarantine minimum of 3 months + 6 weeks on ship. So money is tied up approximately 18 weeks before any income comes in off the trees.

I think you will agree the markup is not as great as it would appear.