8 Bonsai Exhibitions in Japan You Really Should Not Miss

The bonsai, when sculpted correctly, has an incredible aesthetic beauty to it, and what better way is there to enjoy this art than at one of the many year-round bonsai exhibitions in Japan? These shows attract some of the best horticulturalists who come to show off their work and are incredible sources of inspiration for hobbyists and those who simply enjoy their beauty. Here is a list of the best bonsai shows you should attend.

Topics Covered

  • Kyoto Exhibitions
    • Taiken-ten
    • Gafu-ten
  • Osaka Exhibitions
    • Shunga-ten
  • Saitama Exhibitions
    • Omiya Bonsai Festival
  • Tokyo Exhibitions
    • Sakufu-ten
    • Yasui-ten
    • Satsuki Bonsai Festival
  • Kagawa Exhibitions
    • Kinashi Bonsai Festival
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10 Piece Bonsai Tool Kit10 Piece Bonsai Tool Kit
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Show off your tree with this round ceramic levitating pot.

The Taiken-ten bonsai exhibition

Bonsai exhibitions
Dake, Bonsai IMG 6425, Cropped, CC BY-SA 2.5

When: November 18-21 Dates may change
Where: The Miyako Messe Exhibition Hall in Kyoto City

The Taiken-ten takes place each year over a weekend at the Miyako Messe Convention Center. It’s the second-largest bonsai exhibition in Japan and also one of the largest in the world. Each contestant has a display area where they show off their best trees – some of which are worth up to $1,000,000! A panel of 13 judges selects the winners, and trees are judged according to size and type. There is also a sales area where you can buy bonsai trees and other related accessories.

The Gafu-ten bonsai exhibition

A tree on display at a bonsai exhibition in Japan.
A tree on display at a bonsai exhibition in Japan.

When: Early January
Where: The Miyako Messe Exhibition Hall in Kyoto City

The Gafu-ten exhibition takes place in January, and although not as big of an event as Taiken-ten, it still offers a wide range of extra attractions. First of all, some of the trees on display are small. So small they fit onto a 22-millimeter diameter ¥5 coin. These are known as Shohin bonsai trees, and they reach a maximum height of 20 centimeters. You will also find a sales area from where you can buy your own super miniature shohin trees. Prices range from ¥300 for a young tree ready to be worked on to well-established trees, which cost up to ¥1,250,000.

If you understand Japanese, you will be able to attend seminars, free workshops, flowerpot-making demonstrations, and guided tours of the exhibition.

The Shunga-ten Shohin bonsai show

Bonsai exhibitions: Shunga-ten
Oilstreet, Bonsai Osaka-tenmangu01-r, Cropped, CC BY-SA 3.0

When: End of March
Where: The Mizu No Yakata Dome in Osaka City

The Shunga-ten exhibition, just like the Gafu-ten in Kyoto, is primarily focused on the shohin style and is one of the top 3 bonsai shows in Japan. The event takes place in Autumn when trees do not have their leaves because it’s easier to admire the form and branches. Also on display are an incredible range of beautiful bonsai pots of all shapes, sizes, and styles.

The Omiya bonsai festival

The Omiya Bonsai Village
TypeZero, OmiyaBonsaiVillage Ōmiya-Bonsai-Art-Museum 001, Cropped, CC BY-SA 4.0

When: May 2-4 Dates may change
Where: The Omiya Bonsai Village in Saitama Prefecture

Kita-Ku is a beautiful place in the Saitama Prefecture but usually does not make it onto the lists of frequently mentioned Japanese travel destinations. Apart from its beauty, many attractions add to the overall appeal of this little destination. One of the top attractions is the Omiya bonsai village and the yearly festival held there.

The Sakufu-ten bonsai exhibition

Bonsai show.
Dake, Bonsai IMG 6394, Cropped, CC BY-SA 2.5

When: January
Where: The Green Club in Ueno, Tokyo City

The Sakufu-ten is held each January in Ueno, Tokyo. It’s a pretty small exhibition held at the Green Club, and there are usually no more than 60 trees on display. Don’t let that deter you because the trees are of exceptionally high quality and truly breathtaking. In addition, the other floors in the Green Club have permanent exhibitions and places where you can purchase a wide variety of tools and accessories. Winners are announced on the last day.

The Yusui-ten bonsai exhibition

Bonsai trees.
Ken Thomas, NCArboretum Bonsai-27527-1, Cropped, CC0 1.0

When: October
Where: The Green Club in Ueno, Tokyo City

The Yusui-ten is another bonsai exhibition at the Green Club in Ueno, Tokyo. The event is much larger than the Sakufu-ten because amateur hobbyists are allowed to partake in the competition. Over 100 contestants compete each year for the top prize, with most being azaleas in their most beautiful autumn condition.

The Satsuki bonsai festival

Bonsai show.
Hannes Grobe, Bonsai-1 hg, Cropped, CC BY 3.0

When: Late May
Where: Ueno Park in Tokyo City

Ueno Park is a popular Tokyo tourist destination, and if you happen to be in the city during May, then why not check out the Satsuki bonsai festival? It’s a large outdoor exhibition showcasing hundreds of beautiful and colorful miniature Satsuki trees. Many trees and accessories are for sale, and some professionals can give you valuable pruning tips and advice.

The Kinashi bonsai festival

The Kinashi bonsai festival
Daniele Prati from Milano/Cesenatico, Italy, The bonsai experience (2875993491), Cropped, CC BY 2.0

When: October
Where: The Ueki Bonsai Center in Kinashi, Kagawa Prefecture

In Japan’s Kagawa Prefecture is a small town named Kinashi. What makes this place so spectacular is that 80% of all black pine in the country grows here, and there are 20 bonsai nurseries located near one another. And if you happen to be in town during late October, head over to the Ueki Center for the yearly Kinashi bonsai festival, where you can see hundreds of miniature pines on display.

Related Content

If you grow bonsai trees and consider yourself talented then why not enter an exhibition? Bonsaificusretusa.com offers a guide on how to prepare your tree for entry into a competition, which you can read here.

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To grow a healthy tree fast, you should always choose the correct soil for your tree.

The pot you choose for your tree plays an important part in aesthetics. Find out more about bonsai pots here.