Bonsai Bicycling #JapanTravel
Bonsai are the Hobbits’ version of trees. The potted forests are shaped in proportion to Mother Nature’s original version. Only smaller. When viewing a bonsai:
1. Look at the overall composition of the plant
2. See if you can recognize the front from the back of the bonsai.
3. Crouch down; pretend your Hobbit size and see if you’re getting a forest vibe.
You get bonus points for picking up a message conveying the fragileness of life. You also get a bunch of gold stars if you recognize the perfection of imperfection. (Wabi sabi refers to this idea in Japanese.) Personally I’ve always found bonsai to be pristine and perfect. Still, there is a haunting poignancy about bonsai. The sturdy trunk is evocative of a spirit that is strong. Yet its’ fragile limbs are easily broken.
My husband, David and I were taken to a worldwide famous bonsai museum. Vans of Swedes were visiting the Omiya Bonsai Art Museum on the same day (in Saitama prefecture.) Japanese TV cameras were actually on hand to interview one of the fellows. The indoor and outdoor museum features all things bonsai: ancient artistic scrolls, history (in English) and exquisite real bonsai!
After arriving at Omiya train station – approximately 40 minutes from Tokyo – the best way to navigate the small streets is bicycle! It’s also the more budget-friendly and fun way to go. Besides, the Omiya Bonsai Art Museum, there are also numerous bonsai nurseries. Homes in Omiya with more than 10 bonsai are required by law to exhibit them. So, a bicycle is a fantabulous way to see the bonsai. Please, please be a good ambassador and respect the wishes of owners who say no photography.
While in the Omiya neigborhood, visit Hikawa Shrine. The shrine is a refreshing detour from the routine tourist route. Ancient trees shade visitors from the outside world. Tranquility pervades the grounds. (There is also a smallish zoo perfect for children.) Admission into the Hikawa Shrine and zoo are free.
Ninja Note: Click this link for easy bicycle renting at Omiya. Do remember to have a Suica card on hand. Suica cards are easy to obtain from any train station. Make obtaining a Suica card a priority upon landing in Japan. It’s like a debit card with no transaction fees.
Wishing you a bicycle ride to bonsai and beauty in Omiya.
The Ninja Baker
© ™ Watkinson 2012
The Ninja Baker has guest blogged and contributed recipes to numerous food sites. These additional recipes can be found here.