Omiya Bonsai Village
Experience hundreds of different narratives through the knots and leaves of a beautifully curated bonsai forest.
Picture the scene: an old man tends to a bonsai tree and cheerfully talks about how it came to him. He must be over seventy himself, but he’s practically a child in comparison to the bonsai next to him. It’s only 70 cm tall, but that is towering in bonsai terms . You can see the age in the twists of the wood – this ancient giant has been around for 500 years.
This is only one of the bonsai that can be found in the six nurseries of the Omiya Bonsai Village. After the Great Kanto Earthquake in 1923, bonsai nurseries left Tokyo for Saitama and have been in Omiya ever since. These private nurseries are all run by caring owners who will gladly answer questions you might have about bonsai and how to take care of them – you can even buy your own (plus the necessary tools) if you want.
The nursery owners don’t all speak English, but if you head to the nearby Omiya Bonsai Art Museum, you can view beautiful bonsai with English descriptions for an admission price of only 300 yen. You can also get an audio guide for an additional 300 yen that tells you in detail about each bonsai on display.
There are indoor exhibits that change weekly to match the seasons, with explanations about the different kinds of bonsai, their pots, and the calligraphy scrolls that accompany them. The outdoor garden lets you enjoy 50 bonsai under natural lighting – a microcosmic forest within the macrocosm of nature.
The bonsai nurseries are all within a short walk from the museum and are open during daylight hours (usually 9:00-17:00).