in Japan

The fascinating Japanese world of Bonsai

Japan, home to the world’s most beautiful Bonsai trees, is a place to have visited at least once in a lifetime. The quality (and quantity) of Bonsai trees, Japanese gardens and other cultural sites is simply overwhelming.

Japanese Bonsai video

Where to go

The Kanto area (greater Tokyo region) is home to the most famous Japanese Bonsai nurseries, while Kyoto houses the most impressive Japanese gardens and other cultural sites. Personal highlights included visits to Suzuki, Kimura, Omiya, the top-three Japanese gardens and the uncountable number of superb Kyoto gardens. If time permits, schedule a visit to Kinashi Bonsai village as well. Some non-Bonsai related highlights included attending a Sumo tournament day, indulging on some of the best food in the world, making a trip to the wonderful Shikoku island and skiing in the Japanese Alps. A Bonsai holiday to Japan will very likely result in new personal interests, like gardens, Suiseki, Ikebana, Manga, etc!

When to go

Most organized Bonsai tours to Japan depart early February, for the one reason to coincide with the famous Kokufu-ten Bonsai exhibition. The warmer and climatically more stable seasons of spring and autumn are much better times to visit Japan though. When visiting in spring, make sure your trip coincides with Shunga-ten (Shohin exhibition Osaka, late March) and the cherry blossoms (late March/early April). For the most intense autumn colors, visit in November, possibly coinciding with the Shuga-ten (Shohin exhibition Tokyo, early November) or Taikan-ten (Bonsai exhibition Kyoto, mid November).

Other main Bonsai exhibitions in Japan include the Gafu-ten (largest Shohin exhibition, Kyoto early January), Koju-ten (main Satsuki tree exhibit, Kanuma early January), Sogo-ten (Suiseki exhibit, Tokyo late March) and the Satsuki festival (Satsuki trees, Tokyo early June).

Bonsai sights in Japan

The main Bonsai sights in Japan include the Bonsai villages in Omiya and Takamatsu (Kinashi), the gardens owned by mr. Kimura and mr. Suzuki, Osaka based Fujikawa Kouka-en, the Kyoto based Koju-en Shohin nursery, several famous Bonsai exhibitions and Kunio Kobayashi’s Shunkaen Bonsai museum in Tokyo.

Japanese gardens in Japan

Japan’s top three gardens are Kairakuen (Mito), Kenrokuen (Kanazawa) and Korakuen (Okayama). Kyoto offers many stunning gardens, including Ginkakuji, Kennin-ji, Daisen-in, Koto-in, Ryogen-in, Kinkaku-ji, Ryoan-ji and Ninna-ji. Finally, Ritsurin garden in Takamatsu is worth going when visiting Kinashi Bonsai village.

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