Special Spring Exhibition: Birth of the Kokufu-ten Bonsai Exhibition Series~ Early Showa Bonsai Aiming for Art Museum Status

Date:Fri, February 1 to Wed, March 13, 2019
Place:Exhibition Room

In 1934 a landmark exhibition of bonsai was held at the Tokyo Prefectural Art Museum (now the Tokyo Metropolitan Art Museum), which had come to be known as a “sanctuary for art”. Now in 2019, the exhibition continues with the 93rd opening of the Kokufu-ten Bonsai Exhibition, the most prestigious bonsai exhibition in the world.

Up until the start of the Showa period, exhibitions of bonsai were the realm of hobbyists during tea ceremony gatherings or displays at traditional shops. So what path did bonsai take to be the subject of exhibitions in art museums for the general public? The truth is that tbe backdrop of the birth of the Kokufu-ten Bonsai Exhibition’s gives a view of yet to be seen modern history.

In this exhibition we introduce the locus for the inception of the Kokufu-ten Exhibition. This includes the efforts at promoting the concept of exhibitions of bonsai at art museums. These efforts, dubbed “Bonsai Art Campaigning” were especially done by bonsai collector Toshio Kobayashi (1889-1972). This exhibition provides a backstage look at the birth of the Kokufu-ten Exhibition beginning with precious historical documents that tell of Kobayashi’s campaign and through documents of Fumio Asakura, a modern sculptor or great renown.


Date: February 1, 2019 to March 13, 2019 *closed every Thursday

Hours:  9:00 a.m. – 4:00 p.m. *last admittance 30 minutes before closing

*During the month of March the museum is open until 4:30 p.m.

Place: Exhibition Room

Cost: General Admission ¥300 (¥200) / University students and seniors over the age of 65 ¥150 (¥100) / Elementary school students ¥100 (¥50)

* Costs within (  ) are for groups of 20 or more.

【Exhibition Contents】

Prolog- Parents to the Kokufu-ten Bonsai Exhibition

Part 1- Hobbyists’ Exhibitions Meiji and Taisho Periods

Part 2- Collector Tomio Kobayashi’s Appearance on the Bonsai Stage

Part 3- Development of the Bonsai Art Campaign

Part 4- Sculptor Fumio Asakura’ Aid 〜The eve of the Kokufu-ten

Epilog Kokufu-ten Bonsai Exhibition’s Birth

【Events Related to the Exhibition】

Special Exhibition Lecture1 Bonsai, Art, and Fumio Asakura

Date/time: February 11th 13:30~15:00

Lecturer Yasuko TOBARI Researcher at Asakura Museum of Sculpture


Special Exhibition Lecture2 Birth of the Kokufu-ten Bonsai Exhibition and Tomio Kobayashi

Date/time: February 16th 10:00~11:30

Lecturer   Omiya Bonsai Art Museum Curator


◎Place  Omiya Bonsai Art Museum Lecture Room

◎Free admission, 30 seats available, preregistration is required

How to register:

Send a hagaki postcard to the Omiya Bonsai Art Museum by February 4th with the event name(s) (you can register for both events at the same time), your name, your address and postal code and your phone number. *If the number of applicants exceeds capacity we will hold a drawing.


Send post cards to

〒331-0804 Saitama Prefecture, Saitama City

Kita Ward, Toro-machi 2-24-3

C/o Omiya Bonsai Art Museum Spring Exhibition Team

Special Exhibition Gallery Talk

Date/time ① February 3rd and 16th, March 3rd starting at 1:30 in the Special Exhibition room.

To participate, come to the lobby with a museum ticket.

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