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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 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.


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.

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Jonelle Patrick View All

Writing mystery books set in Tokyo is mostly what I do, but I also blog about the odd stuff I see every day in Japan. I'm a graduate of Stanford University and the Sendagaya Japanese Institute in Tokyo, and a member of the International Thriller Writers, the Mystery Writers of America, and Sisters In Crime. When I'm not in Tokyo, I live in San Francisco. I also host a travel site called The Tokyo Guide I Wish I'd Had, so if you're headed to Japan and want to check out the places I take my friends when they're in town, take a look!

3 thoughts on “Elvis is Alive and Living as a Bonsai Tree in Ōmiya Leave a comment

  1. Well written! haha…

    Nothing fills me with so much expat-rage as when I come across these “no photography” signs. It’s even worse in some cases… for example Facebook spent an undisclosed sum of money renting out a part of 109 to have a PR event, then spent even more money advertising it to get people to come and watch. But once there, “no photography allowed” so it was impossible to blog or twitter about it! It just doesn’t make sense.

    The nursery though, maybe there’s some special techniques they don’t want people to see. Or wait… they allow people inside right? haha… weird!

    • Ahaha, that’s the most ironic PR fail ever!

      The thing that puzzles me most is the prohibition on taking pictures at concerts and other performance events. I mean, promoters pay big money – to agencies and/or in-house staff – to generate social media buzz, then prohibit their readymade army of fans from posting photos all over the place and raving about the event FOR FREE. I get why they don’t want people to use flash – fair enough, that’s annoying to performers and audience alike, but no photos? Buh?

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