The Itoigawa Shimpaku is an invaluable part of Itoigawa’s natural and cultural heritage. Shaped and nurtured by the region’s rugged terrain, it is a stunning reminder of the deep bonds which connect the land around us not only to our natural environment, but to our cultures and societies. Masterpieces such as “Tsuru-no-Mai” (Crane Dance) and “Hiryuu” (Flying Dragon) have earned this tree recognition as a “King of Bonsai.” To this day, the Itoigawa Shimpaku’s ability to beautifully express the harshness of nature and the perseverance of life is celebrated by bonsai enthusiasts across the globe. Despite this, the Itoigawa Shimpaku faces many challenges. After decades of collection, it has nearly vanished from its natural habitats and the local bonsai community is aging, which may leave the Itoigawa Shimpaku with nobody available to care for these beautiful plants in the near future.
The Itoigawa Geopark Council, in cooperation with local stakeholders and organizations, launched the Itoigawa Shimpaku Project in 2020 to protect, promote and celebrate this local treasure through the following three goals:
Himekawa’en features a variety of Itoigawa Shimpaku collected from the mountains over 40 years ago in a variety of sizes and shapes. Master Umezawa works to accentuate the Itoigawa Shimpaku’s graceful-butrugged form in a way that reflects its natural habitat in the rocky mountains above Itoigawa.
|Train||10 min taxi from Itoigawa Sta.|
|Car||10 min drive from Itoigawa IC|
|Address||3036 Suzawa, Itoigawa|
Kataoka Garden offers a large selection of Itoigawa Shimpaku and alpine plants, from saplings to impressive trees collected from the mountains. Master Kataoka tries to create bonsai which bring out the beautiful, white shari and graceful curves which make the Itoigawa Shimpaku so enjoyable to work with.
|Train||5 min walk from Himekawa Sta.|
|Car||3 min drive from Itoigawa IC|
|Address||421-1 Ono, Itoigawa|
Located near the entrance of Nechi Valley, backdropped by Mt. Amakazari and Mt. Komagatake, Ota Shofuen features many Itoigawa Shimpaku collected from the mountains. Master Ota specializes in recreating the look and feel of the Itoigawa Shimpaku’s natural habitat through his bonsai designs.
|Train||5 min walk from Nechi Sta.|
|Car||15 min drive from Itoigawa IC|
|Address||343 Negoya, Itoigawa|
Learn how to train and care for bonsai using Itoigawa Shimpaku, tour Itoigawa’s bonsai gardens to learn more about this beautiful tree straight from the masters themselves, or venture deep into the mountains of Itoigawa to visit the rugged landscapes that produced this special tree.
We are working with our community to produce new and exciting tour opportunities. To be informed of the latest developments within the Itoigawa Geopark, check back here regularly and follow us on Facebook, Twitter or Instagram!
The following organizations cooperate with the Itoigawa Geopark Council to make this project possible:
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