What makes the Itoigawa Shimpaku different from other trees? How did it come to be so prized? The answer is hidden in the natural and cultural landscape of its hometown, Itoigawa.
Explore Mt. Myōjō and other natural habitats of the Itoigawa Shimpaku and marvel at the rugged environment this tree calls home. Meet and speak with the local masters and enthusiasts who have cared for the Itoigawa Shimpaku over the decades. Come face-to-face with your own Itoigawa Shimpaku and learn how to care for it yourself. All while enjoying the many sights and warm hospitality of Itoigawa UNESCO Global Geopark.
Embark on a special journey to discover the roots of the Itoigawa Shimpaku, experiencing bonsai as you never have before.
The best place to start your journey is at one of Itoigawa’s local bonsai gardens.
There are three bonsai gardens in Itoigawa which care for Itoigawa Shimpaku. Each master has his own techniques and style of bonsai and feel strongly about this precious tree, so be sure to talk with each of them to learn more about it!
Of course, many of the trees at their gardens are available for purchase.
3036 Suzawa, Itoigawa, Niigata
Himekawaen Garden hosts a wide variety of trees, large and small, with many Itoigawa Shimpaku which were harvested from the wild 35 to 80 years ago. Mr. Umezawa works to create bonsai with forms that represent the tree’s rugged natural habitat and elegant form, with an airiness that gives viewers a sense of the wind.
Message from Mr. Umezawa:
“The Shimpaku has a delicate, elegant appearance which belies its rugged, rocky habitat, where it clings to life fed at times only by dew and fog. It is with this in mind that I avoid using fertilizer. Each day I work to create forms which are both severe and refined, making use of negative space to evoke a sense of the wind.”
421-1 Ōno, Itoigawa, Niigata
Located near Itoigawa IC and JR Oito Line’s Himekawa Station, Kataoka Garden is perhaps the most easily accessible gardens in Itoigawa. In addition to Itoigawa Shimpaku trees, both small and large, this garden also features a wide variety of wild grasses and flowers for sale. Mr. Kataoka works to use the Itoigawa Shimpaku’s beautiful white shari and curving trunk and branches to showcase the versatility of this tree and the diversity and individuality to be enjoyed in bonsai.
Message from Mr. Kataoka:
“Shimpaku is a versatile tree. Its characteristic shari and pliability lend to a wide variety of forms, making it easy for beginners to create and shape their own personal bonsai. It is also quite resilient to heat, cold and disease, so as a bonsai it is very easy to care for. I really hope you enjoy the bountiful nature in Itoigawa as you learn more about the beautiful Itoigawa Shimpaku.”
343 Negoya, Itoigawa, Niigata
Ōta Shōfūen sits at the entrance to Nechi Valley, with Mt. Amakazari and Mt. Komagatake towering in the distance. Mr. Ōta makes use of the Itoigawa Shimpaku’s beautiful white shari to create trees in the bun-jinmoyōgi style which look as though they are still clinging to the mountain cliffs.
His trees range from medium-to-large sizes, most of which were harvested from the wild decades ago.
Message from Mr. Ōta:
“I hope to continue working to make trees which appear as they would in their natural habitat. I draw inspiration from Mt. Komagatake and Mt. Amakazari when shaping the trees in my care.”
If you want to learn more about the Itoigawa Shimpaku or try your hand at making your own bonsai using Itoigawa Shimpaku, check out our experience plans or tours while you plan your visit to Itoigawa. Contact the Itoigawa City Tourism Association for details.
Take your first steps into the world of bonsai with the Itoigawa Shimpaku! We will send you your own miniature Itoigawa Shimpaku tree in the mail with a link to an exclusive video about this special tree and how to care for it. Supplies are limited so check the Itoigawa City Tourism Association’s Homepage (Japanese) for more details! (This kit can only be delivered to addresses within Japan. Product and order information in Japanese Only at this time)
Care for your own Itoigawa Shimpaku Mini Bonsai!
Includes an exclusive instructional video!
For more information about tours about Itoigawa Shimpaku or Itoigawa UNESCO Global Geopark, contact the Itoigawa City Tourism Association! Visit the Itoigawa GeoStation GeoPal Tourist Information Center at the South Exit of Itoigawa Station to start your journey to discover the Itoigawa Shimpaku!
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