When we display bonsai, we usually include an accent plant, as it has become known over the years. This accent plant is called shitakusa, which is translated from the Japanese shita, below or under, and kusa, grass.
Shitakusa is not meant to be the dominant focus of the presentation. Rather, it is plant material to complete the exhibit of the main focus, which can be a bonsai, a suiseki, and/or a scroll. When you look at a bonsai or suiseki display you should never have the first impression, “Wow, what a great shitakusa” or complementary plant. It should round out the exhibit to form a complete impression and make you imagine that it is winter or spring, or that you are in the woods, or that the bonsai is high up in the mountains.
Kusamono, on the other hand, are the “top dog”. When they are exhibited they are the…
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