Visiting “Rikushu-no-matsu (陸舟の松)”

I visited Kinkaku-ji in Kyoto last weekend. Kankaku-ji (The golden pavilion) is one of the most iconic site in Kyoto. Autumn is one of the best season to visit there.  Autumn colour of maple leaves enhance its beauty. The pond surrounding Kinkaku-ji is called Kyokochi pond (鏡湖池, mirror pond) that reflects Kinkaku-ji on its surface.

Kinkakuji with Momiji

There are many articles about Kinkaku-ji available online, so that I don’t write about it here, but would like to touch on “Rikushu-no-matsu (陸舟の松)”.


“Rikushu-no-matsu” is located in the garden of Shoin (Study Hall) at the east side of the Kyokochi pond.


The Japanese white pine tree of “Rikushu-no-matsu” was originally from a Bonsai grown and cared by Ashikaga Yoshimitsu (足利 義満, Sept 25, 1358 – May 31, 1408), the 3rd shōgun of the Ashikaga shogunate. Yoshimitsu firstly planted the Bonsai tree in the ground, then trained it like a boat shape. As Yoshimitsu  grew this from Bonsai by himself, the age of the tree is estimated about 600 years old.  As the head of the ship is heading westward, it is said that the ship was made from the idea of heading toward the Buddha’s Land of Bliss in the west.

Kinkakuji ohuda

By the way, one of the reasons came from the recently released film, “Bohemian Rhapsody”.  It is a film about Freddie Mercury’s life, a  legendary lead singer of Queen. Freddie is known as a Japanophile and things Japanese are seen in some scenes in the film. In one scene, I found an amulet from Kinkaku-ji stuck onto the wall of Fredde’s house!  I may have visited there.

空中盆栽 – Air Bonsai by Hoshinchu

New wave in the Bonsai world for Bonsai lovers in the world.

Interesting article to read by Christopher Jobson.

Air Bonsai: Levitating Magnetic Bonsai Trees by Hoshinchuby Christopher Jobson on January 25, 2016

Air Bonsai project is supported by Kickstar, cloud funding site in the US until the end of February.

About Hoshinchu Air Bonsai Garden, click here.

冬至梅 BONSAI TOUJI-BAI: A scent that brings spring

About one month ago, I wrote about my new Bonsai in my blog.

The bonsai tree is called ‘Touji-bai (冬至梅)’, a kind of Ume (Japanese plum). The plant is named out of winter solstice as it normally blooms from the end of December to January.


We have relatively cold winter in Tokyo area and it started blooming last Friday.  It is now almost a full bloom.

This plant has white flowers with gorgeous scent. No wonder that the plant is of the Rosaceae family.

The scent of Ume is adopted as a theme for Japanese poems. In ‘Kokin-wakashu’ created in the beginning of Heikan era (794-1185) , there is a poem that exquisitely described the strong scent of Ume.

    ”春の夜の 闇はあやなし 梅の花


The poem describes one spring night. someone is walking in the dark and a waft of Ume scent  is adrift in there, although Ume flower is invisible under the darkness.

The Ume flower itself looks beautiful and has visually aesthetic value but in the situation described in the poem, one is sensing the existetence of flowers only relying on the scent and it comes as a surprise in the dark. Finding beauty in such subtlety rather than in obvious is really Japanese aesthetics to me.

The scent reminds me one of my favorite fragrances, Do Son from diptyque.

Do Son

I cannot wait for spring to come………

盆栽 BONSAI: Creation of a little cosmos


Bonsai is often called a green little cosmos.

Bonsai is trees or plants grown in a container in such a way that they look their most beautiful. One admires the beauty of living things and energy of nature over the reproduced esthetics of wild nature in a small container. Captivating bonsai is an artistic hobby.

Bonsai is truly a living art. In this small world, there are the changes of seasons and the simple perception of nature forms alongside seasons.

The roots of bonsai is said to be far back in Heian era, running from 794 to 1185, and early bonsai can be seen in picture scrolls in the early 14th century.

In ancient times, bonsai was only for high-ranking people such as aristocrats and priests, but it became typical for commoners in the 17th century. Bonsai in the life of commoners in Edo era was often chosen as a theme of Ukiyo-e paintings. Those capture the popularity of bonsai and the vivacious life with bonsai as shown in some examples below.

Shikihanakurabe autumn

Photo via Ukiyo-e Ota Memorial Museum of Art 

Ueki-IchiPhoto via Network 2010

BijingaPhoto via 内外資料堂

After Japan opened the country up to Western countries in 1868, bonsai became to be appreciated as an object of art by Westerners. ‘Plant hunters’ from Western countries began to visit Japan since then.  A record remained in the UK that says those plant hunters were impressed by seeing so many Japanese people appreciate nature.

Plant hunters?? There is such a unique profession of searching for and studying new plants and trees in the world. It is fascinating to just imagine how the plant hunters from Europe saw the little cosmos of bonsai everywhere in Japan and the affection of Japanese people toward that back in the 19 centuries. I guess a plant hunter looks like him, Seijun Nishihata. If you are interested in his work, please take a look at his site from here. It is only in Japanese but full of weird BUT brilliant plants and trees.

Today, bonsai continues to be a hobby of the general public in Japan as well as an important part of Japan’s artistic tradition.

Speaking of bonsai, at the Hermes’s ‘Leather forever’ exhibition, bonsai was used as a motif to demonstrate a number of shared values between Hermes and Japan, such as ‘respect for tradition, the will to perpetuate savoir-faire, the patient and meticulous approach of the artisan, and a focus on detail’. In the exhibition, Hermes exhibited a set of unique pieces of micro-bags such as Kelly, Birkin, and Constance, inspired by a bonsai.


I got my little bonsai for my house. It is Japanese apricot tree and is expected to bloom in one to two weeks from now. I am so looking forward to it!

My Bonsai

There are many bonsai tours and a dedicated museum available in Japan. I leave a  directory below:



Bonsai Tour (info)