My trip this year was an opportunity for me to return to Japan to discover my own rhythm. This was closer to what can live any bonsaïka visiting over there with few exceptions.
I was able to make the choice to spend a few days in Tokyo to visit shugaten, Omiya bonsai nurseries and museum. But my goal is not only to visit, but also to share with you these exceptional moments, so I contacted the museum to be able to take some pictures. I have easily contacted the museum curator, Ms Rumiko Ishida, and we could discuss my visit and what I wanted to publish.
Meet the Curator
I could enjoy a guided visit to the museum with her. She took the time to explain the history of the museum and the city of Omiya, present me tokonoma, and the trees of the museum’s collection. It is a great privilege for me to have had entitlement to visit with her.
Presentation of the museum
Opened in March 2010, Omiya Bonsai Museum is the first public museum of bonsai in Japan. It is divided into four main areas:
- entry, with a selected depending on the season and set on a pedestal bonsai,
- collection gallery that consists of a presentation of pots, bonsai and 3 tokonoma,
- garden with bonsai.
The entrance, the gallery and tokonoma are regularly used to expose bonsai and pots from private collections. Depending on the time when you visit the museum you can admire some trees from the gardens of Mr Kimura, Mr Kobayashi, Mr Murata…
The showroom is a space dedicated to a collection of a different kind. You can see some works that tell the history of bonsai: books, ukiyo-e prints, photographs. It is a space that really looks like museums as we know them.
Tokonoma display, zashiki-kazari :
Tokonoma display is for me the culmination of bonsai. If a bonsai is not kind never finished piece of art, his presentation in a tokonoma, when at the height of her beauty, can be regarded as a finality.
The museum contains 3 rooms at the end of the gallery, each containing a tokonoma. Each tokonoma has its own style from the most prestigious to the more informal:
- shin (the most prestigious) – shin-no-ma
- gyō (The most common) – gyō-no-ma
- sō (the more informal) – sō-no-ma
Bonsai or presentations placed in each tokonoma depend on the level of formality of tokonoma. A presentation of shohin or kusamono find its place in the most informal of the three, while a large prestigious bonsai will be placed him in the shin-no-ma.
You can regularly enjoy the trees presented in tokonoma on the facebook page of the museum.
Discovery of some bonsai museum collection:
« Chiyo-no-matsu« , the museum masterpiece : size : above 160cm
« Uzushio » japanese white pine, goyo-matsu : size : 63cm x 72cm x 50cm
« Jyuun » juniper, shimpaku : size : 93cm x 118cm x 98cm
« Musashi-ga-oka » japanese maple, yamamomiji : style : kabudachi
I will publish photographs of other trees in the museum later in the ActuBonsaï portfolio. Meanwhile you can discover the museum gallery on their website.
The four missions of the museum
- Maintain the collection of Mr. Reiji Takagi,
- exhibit trees from private collections,
- collect and search for information on the history of bonsai,
- teach bonsai and perpetuate.
The perpetuation of bonsai in Japan, a priority
Like many traditions, bonsai suffers from a lack of interest among younger generations. His work is considered unattractive and too restrictive. Therefore its sustainability requires efforts to be assured. Actions are implemented with schools to help young people discover the Japanese art of bonsai. This is an initiative that is supported by the city of Omiya and its museum, demonstrating the involvement of public authorities in the desire to preserve this cultural heritage.
Join the museum from Tokyo
If like me you are planning a trip to Japan, I suggest you take a day to go to Omiya to visit the museum and nurseries.
An easy way to join Omiya from Tokyo is to take the line-train JR Utsunomiya because it is direct between Ueno station and TORO station that is closest to the museum (link). Ask a controller if the train stops at the station Toro, and similarly for the return because all trains do not stop at Ueno station.
Once there, coming out of the station you will find small signs indicating the way to the museum. You will also find small town plans with nurseries indicated. At the museum you can recover a schematic plan of the city.
I wanted to thank everyone who made this privileged visit at the museum possible : Mr. Yoshimoto Ishizuka, Me Rumiko Ishida, Mr. Yasushi Kaneko of the city of Saitama.