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 1,000 bonsai can now be seen in the museum, including 500 worth more than 10 million yen.
Knowing More About Bonsai Culture in Japan
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 of 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.
Getting Started with Bonsai in Japan
Today, I will try three different tasks that are part of the bonsai styling process—the first consists of pruning the tree. Pines on the tree with 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 pine needles on my tree.
Next comes the wiring. This part is a crucial technique as it wrapping wire around the tree branches 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 at how flexible they were. My teacher told me to take my time and to shape the tree as I wanted.
Bonsai: A Collaboration Between Nature and Imagination
Ultimately, he reminded me that it is essential to imagine how the tree is shaped in real life. He bends again some of the branches, especially those at the top of the trunks, in a shape that reminds of a windy day. An experience that gave me a beautiful glimpse into the world of bonsai in Japan.
Tokyo's Shunkaen Bonsai Museum: 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 community member while living, observing, and learning from the master and his apprentices.
Here's Where to See Bonsai in Japan
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!
*Prices and options mentioned are subject to change.
*Unless stated otherwise, all prices include tax.
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