BONSAI WORLD A series of articles by The Shikoku Shimbun focuses on the attractions of bonsai which encapsulate small universes in containers.

Visit to key bonsai production center of Takamatsu's Kinashi area
Producers eager to maintain 200-year-old tradition

February 4, 2009

The Kinashi area, one of Japan's major bonsai production centers, is located in the western part of the city of Takamatsu, which expanded its boundaries from 2005 to 2006 through mergers with several nearby municipalities.

In Japanese, Kinashi literally means ''free from demons.'' The name Kinashi is said to derive from one of the most famous Japanese folklore tales, ''Momotaro'' (Peach Taro or Peach Boy).

According to the legend, Momotaro, who was born in a large peach, went to an island occupied by demons and drove them out. So, Kinashi is free from demons. There is even a Momotaro shrine located there. ''The home of bonsai and garden trees'' is used as a catchphrase for the Kinashi township. This reporter visited the area, which is indeed dotted with many bonsai growers, tree planters and gardeners.


Bonsai fields in Takamatsu's Kinashi area.
Bonsai fields in Takamatsu's Kinashi area.

Bonsai Street

A sloping road that links JR Kinashi Station with Takamatsu Nishi High School and the Goshikidai plateau is called Bonsai Street because of the large number of bonsai cultivators and gardeners along it.

While strolling down the street, this reporter took a look at the garden of one of these planters and saw a number of bonsai containers standing in an orderly manner there.

They were ''kuromatsu'' (Japanese black pine), ''goyomatsu'' (Japanese white pine) and various other trees in vessels. Some cultivators care for their products all day long. Such scenes indicate the importance of daily care for bonsai trees, such as watering and pruning.


Fields of bonsai and garden trees can be seen throughout Kinashi township.

Particularly beautiful are the landscapes around Bonsai Street, Kinashi Elementary School and Takamatsu Nishi High School.


Kinashi Garden Planta and Bonsai Center

The Kinashi Garden Planta and Bonsai Center, which is run by the Kagawa prefectural government, is located next to Takamatsu Nishi High School. The biggest bonsai festival, called the Kinashi Bonsai and Garden Plants Festival, is held annually in late October at the center. This year's fair was held between Oct. 19 and 21, featuring an exhibition of about 20 bonsai masterpieces. Many ''shohaku'' and ''zoki'' bonsai items were offered for sale there. Meanwhile, the bonsai market opens on the 5th, 15th and 25th of every month throughout the year.

A scene from this year's Kinashi Bonsai and Garden Plants Festival which was observed by some schoolchildren.
A scene from this year's Kinashi Bonsai and Garden Plants Festival which was observed by some schoolchildren.

An about 300-year-old kuromatsu (Japanese black pine) tree at Kandaka Shojuen bonsai garden in the Kinashi area in the city of Takamatsu
An about 300-year-old kuromatsu (Japanese black pine) tree at Kandaka Shojuen bonsai garden in the Kinashi area in the city of Takamatsu

Agricultural union corporation

People in the Kinashi area launched an agricultural union corporation in fiscal 1974 ending in March 1975. An agricultural union corporation is a collective farming organization established under the agricultural cooperatives law and is aimed at promoting union members' interests by collectivizing their agricultural production. At least three farmers are required for forming such a union.

Kinashi's agricultural union corporation had 128 members, mainly bonsai growers, tree planters and gardeners, at the time of its establishment thanks to the bonsai boom at that time. But the membership has declined gradually and now stands at 80. Members are obliged to do some work for the union. But many members have apparently quit due to their advanced age as they cannot perform the mandatory work any more.


Union leader Kunihiro Kandaka said, ''Prospects have improved as bonsai has recently started to attract attention from many young people and women.'' But he also said Kinashi's bonsai business remains in a tough situation partly because many prospective successors to growers choose to leave the farm for work elsewhere. ''We have 200 years of bonsai history built up by our predecessors,'' Kandaka said. ''We'd like to keep working to maintain Japan's traditional bonsai culture.''

 (By Shigeo Hano)

translated by Kyodo News

Comments(2)

Lindsay FarrSeptember 2, 2009 3:57 PM

Thank you for this interesting and informative article.

Mr Kandaka is an inspiring man. World bonsai is fortunate to have him as leader of the globes most creative and sustainable bonsai community

ChrisMarch 29, 2010 10:05 PM

Hi. how can I get that kind of bonsai? It looks awesome! please reply on punkass_catzu@yahoo.. thanks

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