What is Bonkei? Not Bonsai.

What is Bonkei? Not Bonsai.


I’m Nobu, I like traveling overseas and in Japan, visited 25 countries. I’ve got the license of the certificate English guide in Japan for 7 years.I show you hidden Japan which you have never seen and heard of!

I saw a cute display of Bonkei at the chrysanthemum exhibition at Meiji Shrine.



Bonkei literally means BON ( 盆, tray) Kei( 景, scenery), scenery on the tray.

It is a traditional Japanese and Chinese hobby .

It’s an art form which people create and appreciate natural scenery by placing soil, sand, stones, moss, plants and trees on a tray.

Like gardens, bonsai and ikebana, Bonkei is a three-dimensional art .

It attempts to capture and express the beauty of nature in three dimensions.

Differences between Bonsai and Bonkei?

Bonkei differs from Bonsai. In Bonsai the beauty of nature is evoked from the appearance of individual trees itself.


In Bonkei it is important to express beauty through ingenuity in placement and scenery.

Bonkei is divided into the arts known as Bonseki, Bontei, and Bonsan.


Bonkei first expressed in Japan in the Kamakura period (1185-1333).

It’s said Bonkei first created in 1309.

In 1620, on the occasion of the construction of the Katsura Palace in Kyoto, Prince Katsura himself ordered a gardener to create a sample garden.

This is the beginning of Hakoniwa(tiny garden, similar as Bonkei).

Later, the technique of Bonkei was introduced from China.


And during the Edo period, books on Bonkei were published.

Town people used the this technique as a hobby.

Chrysanthemum exhibition and Bonkei


Even today, Bonkei exhibits as a stand-alone exhibition or together with chrysanthemum exhibitions.

If you come to Japan in the fall, there are many chrysanthemum exhibitions.

These are usually in November.


And there you might be able to see some cute Bonkeis too.

You will see how Japanese people love tiny cute things!

I’m Nobu, one heart enjoy together!!!

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>Enjoy Tokyo and Japan as locals do!

Enjoy Tokyo and Japan as locals do!

TOKYO travel TIPS is the site which offers local updated information of Tokyo and Japan. There are many traditional, modern culture , festivals and beautiful nature in Tokyo and Japan. We want to share with travel beginners and repeaters to Tokyo and Japan! Let’s enjoy as locals do!