A garden teeming with pines, where visitors can appreciate Japanese elegance and beautyKandaka Shojuen
A huge pine tree named Dohyo-iri (sumo ring entering ceremony) acts as a guidepost to the Shojuen, famous for its scenic beauty
A gently sloping road that departs from Prefectural Road No. 33 toward Kagawa Prefectural Takamatsu West High School is the main street in this Bonsai-producing area known as Bonsai Street. Kandaka Shojuen is located along this road. The huge pine bonsai named Dohyo-iri, rising to the sky, acts as a guidepost to this bonsai garden. KANDAKA Keiji is the fourth-generation keeper of this garden.
The lower branches of Dohyo-iri, more than 4 meters long, spread above the ground as if they are creeping over it at the tree’s site deep inside the garden. As the name suggests, the pine’s commanding presence, reminiscent of a sumo wrestler of the highest rank entering the ring, is well worth seeing. The tree has captivated many visitors to this garden.
Feel the power of pines teeming with dignity and enabling visitors to appreciate Japanese elegance and beauty
The Zuiho-den, where many bonsai masterpieces are displayed, is another popular attraction in this garden.
The late KANDAKA Yoichi, the second owner of Kandaka Shojuen, built this section in 1975 to commemorate the Order of the Sacred Treasure, Silver Rays that he had received for his service promoting bonsai. Visitors can appreciate bonsai masterpieces including a pine submitted to the Kokufu-ten, the oldest bonsai show in Japan, in this area behind a gate with a big overhanging pine.
A Japanese black pine said to be more than 200 years old which was reportedly loved by OKUMA Shigenobu, an outstanding statesman in the Meiji era, is displayed in the deepest section of Zuiho-den. The base of the trunk, or tachiagari, for this old pine is thick and powerful. Its strong presence is a sight to see.
The beauty of tradition produced by professional skills passed down unbroken from the father to son, by watching how he worked
“Many of the bonsai you find here have lived tens or hundreds of years,” says KANDAKA Keiji. “I’m living close together with these bonsai, to do whatever they want me to do.” What KANDAKA is doing may be the anticipation of intentions, the same way that mothers understand their babies’ wishes, by just listening to their cries. Every person and every bonsai is different. This rule applies to both people and bonsai. KANDAKA has kept engaging in a dialogue with the bonsai, following in his father’s footsteps. The gentle smiles that crease KANDAKA’s face every now and again, breaking his serious expression while pruning bonsais, tell how much he loves his bonsai.
Once-in-lifetime encounters and feelings are what make bonsai delightful
Countless bonsai sit side-by-side on shelves in this garden. Each of them has a price tag, and visitors are welcome to purchase them. However, many beginners find it hard to choose the pine that is best for them. KANDAKA’s advice is, “The best one to buy is the one you immediately liked as soon as you saw it.” Bonsai grow in their appeal as the cycle of seasons pass, year after year. Beginners tend to worry about how to water and take care of their bonsai. However, they grow strongly with maintenance, including pruning, performed several times a year. This is another characteristic of bonsai. Feelings are important for people and bonsai alike. An encounter with a masterpiece that suits your taste is a delight. Pines have been enjoying popularity, as they are a plant that is easy to adopt into your life.
My job is to enable bonsai to live hundreds of years and complete the spans of their lives. I’m growing them without haste, treating them tenderly.
KANDAKA grows many types of bonsai from seeds at his farms. He is facing the bonsai, watering, and taking care of them every day. KANDAKA’s son has decided to enter the bonsai business, too. His son will be the fifth-generation keeper of Kandaka Shojuen. KANDAKA’s professional skills will be passed down unbroken. Bonsai are enjoying unprecedented popularity now. However, KANDAKA asserts that his job is to face bonsai in the same sincere way and continue to take care of them wholeheartedly. Bonsai that have stayed by his side since childhood have become an irreplaceable part of his life. KANDAKA says there is a loneliness and happiness, like seeing his own child off, that fills his heart when he delivers a bonsai to a customer. Why don’t you visit this garden first and admire bonsai produced with great pride, proficient skill, and passion?
- 428-1 Yamaguchi, Kinashi-cho, Takamatsu City, Kagawa Prefecture