The Fukushima-En (the Bonsai garden) is just a neighborhood of Narita International Airport in Chiba prefecture. I had a chance to pay a visit there meeting Mr. Takayuki Fukushima, the third generation of proprietors of Bonsai garden the other day. 14 years ago (in 1993), Mr. Fukushima’s Bonsai garden was moved from Saitama city (Saitama Prefecture) where is thought to be the mecca of Bonsai. Sure enough, the recent 8th World Bonsai Convention was held there back in April this year.
Just in case, you are not familiar with Bonsai, here is a story.
Bonsai was originally imported from China in Heian period (approximately 1200 years ago) by a Japanese envoy to Tang Dynasty China. The original format in China (Bonkei = Landscape in tray) was to create the artificial landscape using rocks, sands, trees and mosses. After its introduction to Japan, Bonkei was changed to Bonsai representing the natural landscape mainly by the trees.
Later, it was developed in a more sophisticated manner by Samurai family through Kamamkura period. In modern days, Bonsai used to be regarded as an expensive hobby by the senior gentlemen having ample time and money, yet it stole the heart of mania in foreign countries these days. The beauty of Bonsai is what we see the microcosm of nature aesthetically represented by the miniature trees or plants which were dwarfed through laborious artificial methods of cultivation like cutting, pruning, wiring etc.The uniqueness of Fukushima garden is its location. The garden is very close to the Lake Inba. The wind from the lake Inba (the largest lake in Tokyo metropolitan area) gives the ideal humidity in the morning and evening along with good sunshine according to Mr. Fukushima. Also, the garden is backed up by the cliff to protect Bonsai from the harsh north wind in the winter time specifically.The Fukushima garden shows all kinds of Bonsai including the 200 years old pine tree. I was speechless to meet the Bonsai which survived for such a long time. 200 years ago, Japan was in the middle of national isolation policy closing the door to the Western world with a few exceptions. It is interesting to see the Bonsai made from that aged tree now mesmerizes the foreign manias. It is also worth mentioning that Mr. Fukushima is a creative-minded person who is always contemplating the new concept of Bonsai. One day we may be meeting the brand-new format of Bonsai invented by Mr. Fukushima at one of those Bonsai convention. If you arrive Narita airport and you wish to visit a Bonsai garden in busy itinerary, this is the best place to be!