The Shunkaen Bonsai Museum is one of the most pleasant places that I have had the chance to visit in Tokyo. After a 15-minute bus ride from the Mizue Station, it is an oasis of nature around a beautiful traditional Japanese house. More than a thousand bonsai can now be seen in the museum, including 500 worth more than 10 million yen.
Knowing More About Bonsai Culture
The bonsai that I'm going to take care of is about twenty years old. It is a pine. Before beginning, my instructor of the day reminds me the three bases of this art. First of all the character or a sense of uniqueness. The harmony and balance of the tree, and finally its elegance achieved through gardening.
Today, I will try three different tasks that are part of the bonsai styling process. The first consists on pruning the tree. Pines on the tree that have a 'yellowish' color are not attractive, and must be plucked by hand to avoid dead, brown foliage. This task was relatively easy as there were not many yellow pines on my tree.
Next comes the wiring. This part is a crucial technique as it wrapping wire around the branches of the tree is essential to bend and reposition them. As this is my first time, we start doing by using aluminum wire, which is easier to work with. My teacher advises me to wire two branches of similar thickness and that are located close to each other. From what I saw, the angle should be at around 45°.
Then the most impressive part: bending. As it was my first time trying it, I was at first worried that the branches might break easily. But in the end, I was actually surprised on how flexible they were. My teacher told me to take my time and to shape the tree like I wanted.
A Collaboration Between Nature and Imagination
Ultimately, he reminded me that it is very important to imagine how the tree is shaped in real life. He bend again some of the branches, especially the ones at the top of the trunks, in a shape that reminds a windy day. An experience that gave me a beautiful glimpse into the world of bonsai.
A Place That Welcomes International Students
The Shunkaen Bonsai Museum was opened with the aim of promoting Japanese culture to the world. This is why its creator, Kunio Kobayashi, went up to offer a learning experience for international students. These can spend several weeks on site as a member of the community while living, observing and learning from the master and his apprentices.
Visit the Museum!
For those who are interested in knowing more about bonsai, or simply have a stroll in a beautiful and relaxing place, the Shunkaen Bonsai Museum might do the trick!