Whilst walking amongst a very local flea market in a nearby park a few weeks ago I was lucky enough to be able to pick up a bonsai tree at a heavily discounted price. It has since taken pride of place in my apartment (well maybe not but it sounds like the right thing to say!) and I’ve been taking care to water it and expose it to sunlight where possible which not too easy when I have no garden, balcony or even a proper window sill!
Of course my first experience of these amazing little specimens came from watching ‘The Karate Kid‘ (1984) in the mid-80’s when Daniel-san entered the janitors workshop (below). This was Mr Miyagi’s passion and he gave one to Daniel-san’s mum as a gift.
Viewers who stuck with the franchise even got to see Daniel help Miyagi set up a bonsai tree shop (above) in the rather lame second sequel ‘The Karate Kid Part III‘ (1989).
Omiya up in Saitama prefecture isn’t too far from Tokyo and is a place I have seen featured in the local listings magazines over the years for its bonsai museums and with my new-found interest in this part of Japanese culture I went there last Sunday to learn a bit more.
The museum opened in 2010 and has displays of bonsai pots, suiseki (beautifully shaped) stones, pictures, historical bonsai materials and of course the bonsai trees themselves. There are actually quite a few bonsai nurseries in Omiya making up what is known as Omiya Bonsai Village but one was enough for me so I just went to the museum. Can’t say that I learned a hell of a lot but I did pick up a few tidbits of useful information regarding growing techniques and formal forms of decoration which I won’t bore you with. For some reason you can’t take photos at the museum apart from a small section of the miniature trees on display behind the bamboo fence in the picture below.
The Omiya Bonsai Art Museum can be found at 2-24-3 Toro-cho, Kita-ku in Saitama. It’s a five minute walk from the east exit of Toro Station on the JR Utsunomiya line. Entry is 300 yen.
You can see my Karate Kid filming locations blog entry here.