Art & Design
Omiya Bonsai Village
The Bonsai-mura or bonsai village is a section of Saitama city, where many of the pioneers in the world of bonsai relocated about 100 years ago. Prompted by the Great Kanto Earthquake of 1923 it was time to seek a new and hopefully permanent home for the premier bonsai artists in Tokyo. They settled on this area in Omiya for its more sparse population, mild climate, and lower chance of natural disasters than the coastal region of Tokyo.
Bonsai-mura quickly attracted more and more bonsai artists seeking a place for their craft to flourish. The area is now officially called “Bonsai-cho” on the map, cho being a common suffix for neighborhood and district names in Japan. These days, there are six distinguished gardens in the area displaying rows upon rows of potted bonsai trees, some for sale, and others as works of art to be admired.
The art of bonsai is commonly thought to be for a specific type of tree, but it refers to a way of customizing a tree’s shape and limiting its size for decorative purposes within smaller rooms or smaller gardens. It can be done with any number of trees, but the single necessary element to a “bonsai tree” is keeping it in a pot or receptacle at all times, rather than in the ground. The maintenance required to do this and prevent it from growing too large is an extensive, full-time craft. Controlled trimming, watering, and feeding are the fundamental ways to do this, and some of the gardens in Bonsai-mura offer workshops for tourists to experience this delicate art for themselves.
The gardens are open for viewing, and this is a great district to stroll around to see the diversity of approaches to the art of bonsai. An adventure through the area can be made even more rewarding by first visiting the Omiya Bonsai Art Museum for a base of knowledge.
Bonsai-cho, Kita Ward, Saitama
Varies with location (usually open during daytime hours)
New Year holidays
*Each garden also has irregular holidays
-Bonsai gardens: free to enter
-Omiya Bonsai Art Museum: ticket purchase required