Friday, 19 February 2010

potted plum trees

It’s about 1 hour train ride from Kyoto station to Nagahama located at the northern end Lake Biwa, the biggest lake in Japan, in Shiga Prefecture. Just one hour ride takes us to snow-country... but it wasn’t when I went there.
At least I saw Mt. Ibuki covered with snow, it looked beautiful but it wasn’t close enough to make me feel that I had come to snow-country.

Every year at this time a “Bonbai-ten” (盆梅展), which literally means potted plum trees exhibition, is held in Nagahama. It is set in Keiun-kan (慶雲館) an old house which was built by a local businessman in 1887 for the visit of the Meiji Emperor.

Pine trees and stones are pleasantly laid out in the extensive gardens designed by Jihei Ogawa/ Ueji (7th), a noted gardener who also designed the garden at Heian Shrine and Murin-an. Actually this garden designated as “Special Places of Scenic Beauty” along with other works of Ueji.

This is the first time I visited a “Bonbai-ten” and the one in Nagahama is the oldest and biggest of its kind. I was expecting “bonsai”, but it wasn’t. The plum trees are massive, much taller than I am and very impressive. Some of them are 350 to 400 years old. (photo below)

Some of them are more like the image of “bonsai”.

The room is full of the fresh smell of the flowers and it is very pleasant. Although there are some plum fields in Kyoto, this is more like viewing art work than plants.

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