My Dream Japan Vacation – Kinashi

Bonsai tree

Photo by Carl_C on Flickr

Stacey mentioned to me a few weeks ago that it might be a fun idea to put together a series of dream vacation spots in Japan. Places that I would love to visit in Japan whether it’s probable or not. For my first instalment, and as a long time fan of bonsai, I thought I should talk about Kinashi.

The Bonsai Conundrum

No this is not the name of a new Robert Ludlum novel. For a long time I have been interested in the miniature Japanese bonsai trees. I read all about how to care for, shape and maintain a tree and how it may be possible to keep it alive during our cold Canadian winters. My efforts so far have been less than ideal. My first tree didn’t even last a week. My second tree died of spider mites. My third tree died of who-knows-what and my forth tree died of a broken heart while we were away in Japan. All in all I have had limited success with bonsai trees.

Having said that however, I have heard from bonsai experts that you should expect to lose trees while you’re learning the art. So I haven’t let my bonsai-touch-of-death dampen my interests. In fact, while I was walking through the park surrounding Osaka Castle last year, I came across a large bonsai pavilion of beautiful trees in various styles, shapes and sizes. It took everything in my power not to purchase one. No doubt it would have died of 32-hour-flight-back-home disease.

All about Kinashi

Kinashi is located in the western suburb of Takamatsu on the island of Shikoku and it is world renowned for its bonsai nurseries. And that’s why it belongs in my dream Japanese vacation list.

Kinashi google map

Kinashi has been a center for bonsai cultivation since the Edo period (1603 to 1868), so it’s not surprising that within Kinashi you’ll find more than 100 different bonsai nurseries as it still remains the largest bonsai-growing region in Japan.

If you’re planning on visiting, here is a tip from the website Bonsai World.

A sloping road that links JR Kinashi Station with Takamatsu Nishi High School and the Goshikidai plateau is called Bonsai Street because of the large number of bonsai cultivators and gardeners along it.

And here’s a nice little video about Kinashi:

I had fully planned to take a trip up to Kinashi when I was in Japan, but there wasn’t enough time to fit it in. I fully plan on making time when I go next time.

bonsai trees

Photo by Bonsai Empire

How to get there

Kinashi is not too difficult to get to especially if your planning a visit to the Osaka/Kobe area. Although it’s on the island of Shikoku, it’s in a convenient location.

To get to Takamatsu you can take the JR’s Marine Liner train that departs from Okayama Station in Okayama (just north of Takamatsu on the main island of Honshu). It’s about a 1 hour train ride.

You can also get to Takamatsu from Osaka or Kobe if you prefer. WikiTravel gives us the following bus information:

A number of bus companies, including JR Bus and Takamatsu Express, operate buses to and from major cities in the Kansai area. Prices may very slightly from company to company but in general the prices and trip times are nearly identical. Buses can be booked online.

  • Namba Station in Osaka to Takamatsu, 3 hrs 20 min, ¥3800 one-way, 48 round-trips daily.
  • San’nomiya Station in Kobe to Takamatsu, 2 hrs 30 min, ¥3600 one-way, 27 round-trips daily.
  • Kyoto Station in Kyoto to Takamatsu, 3 hrs 40 min, ¥4800 one-way, 7 round-trips daily.

Depending on the bus company, names of the above buses may include ‘Foot Bus’, ‘Taka-nan bus’, ‘Takamatsu-Express Osaka-go’, ‘Takamatsu-Express Kobe-go’, ‘Takamatsu-Express Kyoto-go’, and more.

Once in Takamatsu, make your way to the Takamatsu Station (if you’re not there already) and take a local JR train to Kinashi (two stations away). Make sure it’s a local train that stops at Kinashi Station. A rapid or express train may not stop at Kinashi.

Once in Kinashi, walk north a few minutes and take a right onto Bonsai Street. You’ll find plenty of nurseries to explore on this street and you’re welcome to walk through many of the nurseries and explore. And if you’ve timed your trip right you may even be able to attend a bonsai auction where they auction of tress and pots etc. The auctions take place on the 5th, 15th and 20th of each month from 9am to 5pm.

For more information on the various bonsai nurseries on Bonsai Street and area, check out the Bonsai Empire website.

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