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AMKK Paludarium: Futuristic Encapsulated Bonsai Trees by Azuma Makoto

Posted on January 26, 2021


Flower artist Azuma Makoto’s latest installation, “Paludarium Tachiko & Yasutoshi,” is in fact a collaboration between Azuma and botanical photographer Shunsuke Shiinoki. Launching off of Azuma’s previous projects, including famously sending a bonsai into outer space, he has taken the 19th century apparatus of the paludarium, reinventing it through a modern lens featuring two bonsai trees thriving inside futuristic ecospheres. The paludarium is a type of greenhouse, primarily reserved for aesthetic or scientific use, that combines terrestrial and aquatic elements serving to preserve organisms in their natural environment. Held in the fittingly minimalist, concrete slab installation space ‘StandBy’ located on the upscale Cat Street in Omotesando, the futuristic encapsulated bonsai trees are quite a sight to see. Azuma’s work is reminiscent of a near-distant dystopia stripped of nature, in which trees and plants merely exist as a figment of our imaginations, or otherwise only in self-sustaining tanks.

Azuma Makoto Paludarium

photo by @keita_1998

Inspired by paludariums that were used by the British in the 19th century, Azuma was fascinated by the concept of sheltering and maintaining an ecosystem outside of its original habitat in an enclosed container. Back in the day, the British would export plants from the British Isles to Australia and vice versa with the aid of these delicate glass cases.

Azuma Makoto Paludarium

photo by @helios.k

Azuma’s creations, Tachiko & Yasutoshi, bring the bonsais to life by mimicking the real forces of nature—water, wind, light, and sound. Encapsulated by four glass walls, the bonsai is exposed to both artificial light from above, and natural light from all sides.

Azuma Makoto Paludarium

photo by @padatk

The clinical and immaculate design of both the paludarium and installation space adds to the intensity of the life force that exists within the bonsai trees and the miniature ecosystems that surround them. Such themes of contrast including natural and unnatural, light and dark, and the idea of preservation seem to pervade Azuma’s works.


Azuma Makoto Paludarium

photo by @akihirohashikami_

This unique installation encourages the viewer to appreciate nature’s beauty up close, even as one is so far removed from nature.

Azuma Makoto Paludarium (closeup)

photo by @chifumi_love

The bonsai bask in natural sounds and music, with two built-in speakers located on the side walls of the paludarium.

Azuma Makoto Paludarium

photo by @enricoy_isap

The ceiling fans bring in a constant stream of clean, flowing air that keeps the tank fresh.

Azuma Makoto Paludarium (flower loupe)

photo by @yuthanan__

The flower loupe allows you to examine the intricacies of the bonsai up close as it changes throughout the course of the changing weather conditions.

Azuma Makoto Paludarium device mechanics

photo by @yuthanan__

The devices are meticulously designed in such a way that every knob, dial, and pipe serves a specific function in maintaining the ecosystem’s optimum climactic levels to allow the plants to flourish.

Azuma Makoto Paludarium mist machine

photo by @kotoozaki

TACHIKO recreates elements of weather including temperature and humidity using a mist machine as well as a drip-feed water system.

Azuma Makoto Paludarium gallery pamphlets

photo by @chifumi_love

The viewing period for this installation ends in just under a week on January 31st, 2021. Don’t let this opportunity to pass you by!



StandBy, 5-11-1 Jingumae, Tokyo 150-0001

Train stations: Meiji Jingumae ‘Harajuku’ (3 min)/ Omotesando (6 min)/Harajuku (9 min)

Google Maps link 

Written by: Maya Kimura Watts