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Japan Autumn 2022, Blog - 5

Pine and Bonsai Farmers in Kokobunji and Kinashi districts,

In our fifth blog we visited the Pine and Bonsai producers in the districts of Kokobunji and Kinashi districts over the two afternoons of our time in Takamatsu. There are approximately 60 Pine and Bonsai farms or producers within the Kokobunji and Kinashi districts. To get there it’s only a short train journey of around 8 minutes on one of the local trains Yosan line from the main Takamatsu station. Taking advantage of our JR passes you can just catch any train on this line as they run frequently. It was obvious this was a Pine Farming area, as we looked out or the train window there were so many areas fields with Niwaki Trees and Bonsai trees growing happily everywhere!

On leaving the small train station there was a large sign board with a map of the Pine and Bonsai growers re their locations which was a great help, so quick photo and we were off. Walking along the streets there were loads of fields full of bonsai trees in rows which is amazing to see! It was only about 5 minutes before we came across the first Bonsai pine producer as we could see absolutely ‘thousands’ of trees on display and on benches in various sizes, which was Nakanishi Chishoen Bonsai producer. There wasn’t anyone around, so we were a little apprehensive regarding just walking in. Also, with this not being a main tourist area not too many people seemed to speak English.

Anyways, in we walked, and a lady came out to greet us, so we put into practise our Japanese and in between the mumbling we managed to say our greetings, where we were from and is it ok to look around, etc. Having been learning Japanese for a few years now it was the perfect location to put it into practice. Having been learning Japanese for a while we had brushed up on Japanese words sentences around information and questions about us growing pines and them growing pines, etc. Anyways it turned out the lady could speak a small amount of English so between us we managed to have a good conversation re pines and bonsai. She was keen to speak English just as much as we were keen to speak Japanese!! She said to us we were the first English speaking people she had spoken to and visited in two and half years. I asked her if she worked here, she said yes, but her husband owns the business and he was the fifth generation being handed down, wow! As we walked around, I asked her how old the trees were pointing to particular trees and the replies were 300 years, 200 years, etc. Wow…I asked her the age of trees around the size we were growing and we were pleasantly surprised on her answers as it meant we were fairly on par so our techniques are working. It was good to talk further techniques around the growing stages, etc so we can put this into practice back home. We both enjoyed our conversations in the different languages, and I think we will return again to this farm next year to continue our discussions!

We continued to walk round the many farms/producers walking into their premises and asking permission to look around and take photos, everyone was so polite and helpful. One of our final farms we looked around was one of the most impressive of our walk around as several of the other producers pointed us their way this was Kandaka Shojuen bonsai producer. The entrance into the garden has a huge Pine Bonsai named Dohyo-iri and it acts as a guidepost to the gardens. The owner Mr Kandaka Keiji San is the fourth-generation producer of the farm. Walking around we were both in awe of the fabulous trees on display from all sizes including lots of developing trees where our interests are, but some very famous trees proudly on display. I cannot say much more because our pictures will do the rest of the talking if you are interested in Bonsai trees and in our last blog Niwaki Trees.

Reading up on the area…The history of Takamatsu bonsai dates back approximately 200 years to the Bunka era (1804-1818). During the Edo Period (1603-1868) It was said to have begun with people transplanting trees that were naturally growing nearby into pots and selling them. Takamatsu is perfectly suited to growing pine trees. Grafting and pruning techniques derived from the cultivation of fruit trees were incorporated, and Takamatsu grew into Japan’s top bonsai production area. Today, Takamatsu bonsai is globally renowned, and buyers visit from Europe and other parts of Asia.

In total over the two blogs we walked just over 12.5 miles.

Kind Regards

Stephen and Anthony

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