Bonsai trees are all the rage this autumn, as the Angyo Kawaguchi neighborhood of Saitama sprinkles its leaves of love across the capital. On September 4-5 Azabu-Juban saw the fleet of mini trees descend, with a charming festival designed to introduce Angyo’s verdant children to new audiences.
Among the more than 2,000 attendees were several hundred international folk, who were interviewed for feedback about the event and were rather chuffed about the whole business. Hardly a surprise when the Angyo Bonsai festival brought all kinds of different trees to the otherwise grey and concrete zone of central Tokyo, including old stately ones to marvel at and snap photos of, and small ones that could be bought for as little as ¥300.
All this was prelude however to the larger festival taking place in Angyo Kawaguchi on October 8-10. The Angyo Bonsai exhibition will be forming part of the 72nd Greenery Festival. To the downtown-dwelling Tokyoites, Saitama might sound just about as far away as the Lower Sahara, but the festival’s nearest station, Tozuka Angyo, is on the Saitama railway, accessible by direct train through from the Namboku line—just 30 minutes from the metropolitan area. There is a free shuttle bus from the station to take you a few minutes away to the festival, where you will come face to face with a dizzying 770 species of tree, flower and plant—along with 35,000 plants to buy.
The festival will include free bus tours of the local area’s lush green spaces, demonstrations by bonsai masters, music in the form of traditional koto and slightly more contemporary jazz, plenty of local produce to sample and buy, and even an auction at which to snap up something green to brighten up your grimy urban slumland housing. The festival is super-gaijin friendly, with volunteer students acting as interpreters so you can find out all about the different types of tree, what they eat, and how they get to be so loveably twisted.
Angyo Grand Bonsai & Greenery Fair, Kawaguchi-Angyo, Angyo-Ryoke 844-2, Kawaguchi, Saitama. Tel: 048-296-4021. 8-10 Oct, 10am-5pm. Nearest stn: Tozuka Angyo. www.jurian.or.jp