The people of Saitama City pooled impressive resources to open the Omiya Bonsai Art Museum in 2010. Billed as the world’s first publicly-operated bonsai art museum, the museum is home to outstanding trees, pots, stands, and historical documents relating to bonsai. Their brochure claims that three principles form the pillars of the museum’s activities:
1) The bonsai research center – The Museum carries out research on the history and significance of bonsai from diverse perspectives. The results are disseminated in an easy to understand way through exhibitions, lectures, classes, and so on.
2) A new tourist attraction for Saitama City – The Museum aims to become a new tourist attraction for Saitama City, one where people can easily encounter the beauty of bonsai.
3) An aid to the revitalization of the bonsai industry – By providing many people with opportunities to become familiar with bonsai, the Museum works to revitalize this traditional industry.
The museum didn’t skimp on trees. A rotating collection of bonsai gives life to exhibits and to the garden at the museum’s center. Here are some of the trees on display the rainy day we visited.
Japanese maple – the tree is named Musashi-ga-oka
Large Japanese black pine in huge antique pot
Modern bonsai display
Red pine and ginkgo
Amazing white pine
Mélange of bonsai colors
The rest of the garden
On our way to the museum, we stopped to pick up Yu-senpai. Yu-senpai’s nursery is about 15 minutes away from the museum and contains a great mix of varieties. His father is a fan of Japanese maples.
Japanese maple in development
Peter enjoying the deciduous trees
More Japanese maples
A twisty shimpaku
We also stopped by a bonsai supply nursery. Inside we looked at crowded rooms of tools, trinkets, antiques, pottery, stands and furniture. Outside sat pallets of bonsai soil and shelf after shelf of bonsai pots. Fun shopping!
Some of the smaller pots
All kinds of bonsai related supplies
I picked up a few knick-knacks – an old woodworking tool, bamboo stands for accent plants – and spent the rest of the time perusing pots. Most were new Japanese or new Chinese. Despite the great selection, I demurred and saved my Yen for older pots.
Not a hat – the pot that made Peter smile
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