My Trip to Japan

In 2006 I took the opportunity to travel to Japan, the home of Bonsai, to see and experience some of the worlds best Bonsai. I loved every minute of it.

The tour gang

The above shows the tour group that includes Dan Barton, Peter Chan and of course me. This photo was taken in Kunio Kobayashi’s garden with a few of his fabulous trees in the background.


Afternoon tea in Kimura's garden

 This was afternoon tea in Kimura’s garden. Kimura himself was at Kokufu-ten that particular day, but we did get the opportunity to see his sensational trees.

Saburo Kato's kitchen

A view of the Kato kitchen where Mrs Kato made tea for us because we had a long journey. She was just a lovely lady and showed photos of Saburo and her during their journey to Australia many years before.

Mt Fuji

Of course no trip to Japan is complete without a photo of Mt Fuji. This photo was taken from the bullet train on our journey from Kyoto to Tokyo.


Entrance to Bonsai garden at Kinashi


We were in Kyoto (a beautiful city) for a few days enjoying the gardens, the markets, the local cuisine and the night life, but the first call in relation to bonsai was at Kinashi. A great place to see and experience Japanese bonsai in its heartland. The above photo is typical of many bonsai gardens in this city.

Bonsai nursery - Kinashi

A typical scene in a bonsai nursery in Kinashi, row upon row of fabulous looking bonsai for sale. Unfortunately it is very difficult to bring plants into Australia.


Black Pines at a Kinashi nursery

 Our trip to Kinashi was quite a cold day and there is snow on these bonsai, but that didn’t dampen my enthusiasm for the bonsai and the surrounds. Cold, but still fantastic.


Black Pine Entrance Gate

 Japanese Black Pine were a feature of Kinashi, and at this garden (nursery) this is the entrance gate with black pine as the roof. A couple of the pines that were under construction are following.


 After Kinashi it was back on the trains and off to Tokyo and of course from there to Omiya Village. A visit to the garden of Saburo Kato was a highlight and following are a few trees from his garden.

One of Kato's famous forrest settings.

It was February while we were there (winter) so the colour is not as bright as other times of the year but the structure and placement was fantastic.

A Prunus being worked on.


Huge Juniper by Kato

 This Juniper is reportedly over 500 years old, and was huge.

Then it was off to the Shunka-en Bonsai Museum of Kunio Kobayashi for a look at his trees.


 A tree on display in one of the Tokonoma’s at Shunka-en.

Another tree on display in another Tokonoma at Shunka-en.


The place was magical and the quality of the trees was just a treat. At the time of our visit Peter Warren was in residence and we went out to dinner with him a some of the other apprentices.

 The next stop was the garden of Masihiko Kimura and yet another unbelievable quantity of quality trees.

Japanese Black Pine

A black pine in Kimura’s garden.


A famous juniper setting by Kimura that featured in a number of publications. It was great to see it in the bark to really appreciate the visual impact the setting has.



 Just for fun, following are three broom style bonsai, one from each of the famous and fabulous artists mentioned previously. It is not a comparison of each style, but just an appreciation of their talent.

Kato's broom

Kobayashi's broom


Kimura's broom

 The standout amongst a large number of highlights was afternoon tea with Mrs Kato and that will be an everlasting memory for me.

A photo with Mrs Kato

 A friend, Mrs Kato and me enjoying a stroll around Suburo Kato’s garden being enthralled by the beauty of his trees.

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