The New-born Japan Rhododendron Society
Hideo Suzuki, Saitama-Ken, Japan
Japan is a country of rhododendrons. Our native rhododendrons comprise some sixty species plus their varieties and forms, which probably number in the hundreds.
The history of rhododendron cultivation goes way back as early as the beginning of the 17th Century. Our ancestors found many excellent varieties and forms in the wild, and admired them enough to plant them in their gardens in the Edo Era (16031867 A.D.), our feudal days.
Although most of the fine ones from those days have been inherited and preserved to the present time, some splendid forms, to my regret, have disappeared during the past several decades. I am now personally looking for these lost beauties and am traveling all over the country and meeting many people. Today, azaleas of the Satsuki, Kurume and Hirado groups alone have, perhaps, over 2,000 named clones.
Despite this long history in Japan of interest in rhododendrons, there had been no independent, nation-wide rhododendron society until the Japan Rhododendron Society (J.R.S.) was established in January 1972. (Previously local Alpine Societies had included rhododendrons in alpines.)
An appeal for the organization of a national Rhododendron Society was made by a young local enthusiast, Mr. Hisaji Yoshioka. His efforts finally moved many of the veteran fanciers and led to the foundation of the J.R.S. His appeal was that a society on a national scale was indispensable in solving the many problems involved in promoting rhododendrons to the general public throughout the country.
Although it is now in its second year, the J.R.S. is still on a trial and error basis, and I am afraid that it may be a little premature to introduce the Society to fellow hobbyists in other lands. However, at the request of the editor of the A.R.S. Bulletin, I am doing so, hoping that sooner or later the time will come when I will be able to write about the Society at greater length with much pride.
The Society has had an unusual administrative organization with no president and no directors. For all practical purposes, it has been run by its Steering Committee, of which I am a member. Just recently, Mr. Motonosuke Ozawa was elected president and Dr. Ichiro Arakawa was elected vice president. Needless to say, they are Japan's top hobbyists and authorities in this field.
The address of the Japan Rhododendron Society is: c/o Mr. Hisaji Yoshioka, Executive Secretary, Fujimigoaka, Fujimicho, Suwagun, Hagano-Ken, Japan. Correspondence from overseas should be addressed to Mr. Hideo Suzuki, 2015, Ne-Dori, Kumagaya, Saitama-Ken, Japan.
Our objective is the promotion of rhododendrons to the general public. We have 397 members as of April 15, 1973.
Three or four chapters are expected to be organized this year.
A formal Bulletin will be issued annually and an informal one will appear quarterly.
A national meeting will be held annually.
Our activities include research to find hardy species and hybrids, and new-born iron-clads, best adapted to the climate of various parts of Japan. Also we want to provide sources for seed, pollen and plants and to create a library of photographs. Research groups will study hybridizing, species, three-leaf azaleas, R. kiusianum, the habitat of our native species and their local differences, etc.