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Travel bucket list idea:

Last updated: 26 June, 2023
Expert travel writer: Rob Goss

One of Japan’s most refined, traditional art forms, the growing of ornamental dwarf trees and the creation of miniature landscapes, aka bonsai, first came to Japan from China roughly 800 years ago.

Varied in appearance and symbolism, they represent the imperfection and struggle of nature. And tending to a bonsai can be a lifetime’s pursuit.

For bonsai buffs, or to simply understand more about this fascinating tradition, a day trip north of Tokyo to the Omiya ‘Bonsai Village’ in the neighbouring city of Saitama is well worth adding to your itinerary. There are half a dozen nurseries there open to the public, as well as a dedicated bonsai museum – the Omiya Bonsai Art Museum.

Just take plenty of cash if you feel like buying one – the most expensive on record, reportedly close to 800 years old, sold for more than a million dollars, and it’s not uncommon to see prices at nurseries hit the 10,000-dollar mark.


Price: Free
Minimum age: Any
Age suitable: 8+
Frequency: annually
When: March, May and Sept
Duration: 2-3 hours

Getting there & doing it

Omiya, a district within the city of neighbouring city of Saitama, is just north of Tokyo.

Getting there is quick and easy by JR trains; depending on the service, it’s 30 to 50 minutes from Tokyo and Ueno stations.

Or, if you wanted to splurge on a taste of the Bullet Train, it’s just two stops from Tokyo Station (26 mins) or one from Ueno (20 mins).

The website of the bonsai museum, the Omiya Bonsai Art Museum, has some background information on bonsai trees and their art forms – worth a quick read before you go.

When to do it

Bonsai nurseries are open daily. The Bonsai Museum is open all year round, Friday to Wednesday. It’s closed on Thursday.

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