Art is the operative word here, because never again will you be able to view the culture of bonsai—cultivating trees in the confines of a pot chosen especially for that plant—as simply a tree or bush after a visit here. Located outside Tokyo in Saitama, well known for its 10 bonsai nurseries that make up the Omiya Bonsai Village, this is Japan's only public bonsai museum and a must for anyone who appreciates the dedication that goes into creating the miniature landscape of a bonsai, often for generations. You'll gain a deeper understanding of how to look at bonsai, including its roots, the formation of its trunk and branches, and even of its bark. First brought from China about 1,300 years ago, bonsai cultivation requires constant care, including watering, pruning and wrapping wire to shape branches, and re-potting after pruning roots. In addition to its excellent information on all things bonsai and its display of pots, paintings, and natural stones used for landscaping, the museum displays about 50 individual bonsai like works of art, inside the museum in traditional tokonoma (alcoves) and outside in its bonsai garden. Its oldest bonsai is—just imagine—a 1,000-year-old Yezo spruce called Todoroki, while its most famous (and probably the most precious bonsai in all of Japan) is a 100-year-old Chinese Quince once owned by a former prime minister. You can easily spend about an hour here, and though explanations are excellent, you'll want to rent the audio guide (¥300) to learn about the individual bonsai on display. And by the way, since The Railway Museum is also out this way, you might want to combine both museums in a single visit.