takuto shibuya mushroom kinoko bonsai

Have you ever come across a beautifully colored, picture book-worthy mushroom while walking in the woods or the park? I still remember the flashy fungi I happened upon when I was in seventh grade; I was near a mountain biking course in Rhode Island and amid the grass was a cute yellow mushroom with red dots, much like a Mega Mushroom from New Super Mario Bros. I considered picking it but I was pretty sure my fingers would start to rot off upon contact, and it would have shriveled up soon enough anyway. Oh, I wondered, will the days of ornamental mushrooms never come?

Enter Takuto Shibuya, whose life-long love of toadstools compelled him to find a way to marvel at their variegated beauty at home. His book Kinoko (Mushroom) Bonsai, released back in June, includes photos of his work as well as instructions on how to make your own. But wait—this type of bonsai isn’t about replanting your find in a pot. Because mushrooms are difficult to take care of, Shibuya took a hint from the Japanese traditions of bonsai and figurines and decided to preserve their alluring forms by recreating them in clay. Read on to take a closer look at his creations as well as his process!

▼ His work on display at a natural foods store.

takuto shibuya mushroom kinoko bonsai display Oisix

27-year-old Shibuya started to develop an interest in mushrooms during kindergarten, when he recognized a mushroom (the “suppontake”, or common stinkhorn) in the park as one he had seen in an illustrated encyclopedia. Now, he enjoys exploring wooded areas after rainfall to admire fungi in the wild and find new inspiration. Let’s first take a look at some of the weirdly wonderful, real-life mushrooms he has found:

▼ A “tamagotake” (Amanita hemibapha). The cap on the far right was larger than his hand!

takuto shibuya mushroom bonsai, tamagotake, Amanita hemibapha

▼ A juvenile “tengutake” (Amanita pantherina) on the left, and a mature one on the right.

Takuto Shibuya mushroom bonsai, tengutake, Amanita pantherina

▼ A young egg-shaped “beni-tengutake” (Amanita muscaria) on the left, and a flat-topped “kihidatake” (Phylloporus bellus) on the right.

Shibuya Takuto mushroom bonsai, beni-tengutake, benitengutake, Amanita muscaria

Though he says that his figures are no match to the beautiful forms found in nature, he models mushrooms of many textures out of clay and arranges them in various containers in an attempt to capture their essence. Instead of veering towards cuteness, he strives for realism even when the end results seem a bit drab when compared to exotic flowers.

▼ These are handmade, not the ones he found outside!

takuto shibuya mushroom kinoko bonsai

But every once in a while, he strays from reality and has fun with bonsai in a way that only figurines will allow, by making the fungi grow from unlikely places such as empty cans:

takuto shibuya mushroom kinoko bonsai, empty cans

Now let’s switch over to his Twitter feed, which is regularly updated with his current projects.

▼ The slimy “kinumerigasa” (Hygrophorus lucorum), its sheen achieved by a coat of clear resin.

▼ A more mature “beni-tengutake” (Amanita muscaria).

▼ A representation of the edible “hiratake” (Pleurotus ostreatus).

▼ Definitely looks good enough to eat!

These following photos give us a glimpse of Shibuya’s work process, as he shapes and paints his bonsai.

▼ The beginning of his “saketsubatake” (Stropharia rugosoannulata) bonsai.

▼ After the clay dries, layers of paint are thinly applied.

▼ Here, he compares his work in progress to a photo in a reference book. The gills were carefully produced with a craft knife.

▼In its final form, growing from a pretty coffee cup.

Takuto Shibuya’s book is available on Amazon.co.jp for 1,620 yen (US$15.09). Given the popularity of Nameko mushrooms in Japan as well as the country’s penchant for turning trends into gashapon toys, maybe miniature lifelike mushrooms will wind up in a capsule toy machine one of these days?

Sources: Japaaan Magazine, Twitter
Images: Amazon.co.jp, Twitter, Kinoko no Jikan