September 27

Elvis is Alive and Living as a Bonsai Tree in Ōmiya

Yesterday I was out at Bonsai Village with my friend Robb (who runs the great website bento.com) and I got to puzzling over the explosion of “no picture taking” signs in Japan these days. The photo above, for example, was taken at the Bonsai Museum from the tasteful bamboo-fenced corral in which we were allowed to take pictures of some trees, but not others.

Why?

Is it to prevent paparazzi from selling unauthorized bad-leaf-day shots to the Weekly World News?  To keep their delicate colors from fading due to overexposure from camera flashes? To protect the museum shop’s monopoly on postcards and pencil cases so they can continue to rake in the big bucks? Buh?

At the surrounding bonsai nurseries, there was no photography allowed at all. Do they think that if people aren’t allowed to take pictures of that $6,000 bonsai, maybe they’ll buy it instead? I suppose the policy does guard against piracy : imagine the economic hit when the nursery next door floods the market with cheap copies of your best Black Pine…in 50 years.

Jonelle Patrick is the author of the Only In Tokyo mystery seriespublished by Penguin/Intermix.

Published by Penguin/Intermix