The New Kyoto Bonsai Garden

In March 2021 The Kyoto Bonsai Garden opened in the middle of the Daitokuji Temple complex. A preopening was held in November-December 2020. The Covid pandemic caused delays and the formal opening was March 20, 2021. Most of the bonsai in the preopening exhibit were from the Tanaka Foundation and other prominent bonsai artists.

We had the opportunity to visit the Kyoto Bonsai Garden, my first time yesterday before we returned to the Nippon Bonsai Taikan Exhibition about 20 minutes away. The concept of a bonsai garden was the dream of Seiji Morimae, who designed the garden and is the general manager. Last year Mr. Morimae sent me photos of the garden before the opening and I compiled a four-page article in the 2021/NO. 2 issue of International Bonsai Online, the new free digital edition of International BONSAIwhich can be viewed and freely subscribed The four-page article has been attached to the end of this blog.

Although I’ve seen many photos of this new garden, my personal visit blew me away. The elegant serenity of the “Zen” garden featuring about 30 bonsai is beyond description. Mr. Morimae spent considerable time designing the garden. An unobstructed view of each bonsai masterpiece clearly shows the beauty of each tree. The stroll garden welcomes visitors into another world.

There is a long narrow entryway into the garden. All the bonsai on left were created by Maahiko Kimura. Directly opposite these bonsai is a special display of stones, originally from the Saburo Kato Mansei-en Bonsai Garden in Omiya. These stones have been carefully arranged leading visitors from the ancient Chinese taste, the origin of stone appreciation and bonsai, to the contemporary Japanese taste of stones. There were several old famous bonsai on display which I remember from 50 years ago. I’d like to show the old photos with their developments, but unfortunately my bonsai reference library has been carefully cleaned and safely packed away until our new home is completed.

All of the displayed bonsai are large, quite large, four man trees. A long exhibit building shows the formal display of smaller, common size bonsai.

Any trip to Kyoto will not be complete without a visit to the Kyoto Bonsai Garden, which is located in the Daitokuji Temple complex, specifically in the Hoshun’in sub temple. The 850-year-old Daitokuji Temple is one of the most popular gardens in Kyoto. Mr. Morimae has not finished his dream yet, as a new modern bonsai museum is in the works directly behind the Kyoto Bonsai Garden to be completed in a few years.

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