What Happened On This Day in "Recent" Bonsai History?


Days 1 - 10
Days 11 - 20

22 1917 -- Melba L. Tucker was born.  [She would go on to become an influential figure in California circles of bonsai and suiseki.] (SSN Master File by Birthdate)   SEE ALSO: Aug 26

1991 -- Gambia issued a set of 8 postage stamps plus three souvenir sheets to commemorate Phila Nippon '91.  Walt Disney characters play Japanese games and sports.  One stamp, which shows Donald Duck and Mickey Mouse playing go (notice the gameboard), has a 3-tree bonsai planting as a decoration just above and to the right of the center of the stamp.   SEE ALSO: Jan 23, Jan 29, Feb 3, Feb 16, Mar 1, Mar 27, Mar 31, Apr 3, Apr 6, Apr 18, May 6, May 29, Jun 16, Jul 20, Aug 20, Sep 22, Oct 1, Oct 4, Dec 9.
24 1967 -- The Gold Coast Bonsai Club was organized in Fort Lauderdale, Florida.  Louis Strycharz was elected president and James Blackwell was named secretary-treasurer.    ("Announcements,"  Bonsai Journal, ABS, Fall/Winter 1967, p.13)
26 1967 -- The American Bonsai Society staged its first educational exhibit at the 43rd annual meeting of the International Shade Tree Conference which ran through Sept. 1 in Philadelphia, PA.  The bonsai were on display during the entire conference which was attended by over 1,000 members and guests.   ("Announcements,"  Bonsai Journal, ABS, Fall/Winter 1967, p.13)

1994 -- The Brazilian Bonsai Society was established in Rio De Janeiro.  Its first two displays were presented about three months later, one week apart.  (Sociedade Brasileira De Bonsai homepage, )

1999 -- Teacher, worker and supporter Melba L. Tucker died in California a few days after her 82nd birthday.  (She became interested in bonsai in 1956 a as a student of Khan Komai, began to teach it a decade later (including to adults in the El Monte and Alhambra, CA schools since 1970), and in 1996 the Suiseki Pavilion in the U.S. National Arboretum was named after her.  That was the same year Melba's book on the American perspective of suiseki was published.  Former president of the Santa Anita Bonsai Society and a member of four other clubs including the California Bonsai Society, she also served as treasurer of Bonsai Clubs International for a total of eighteen years.  She taught bonsai, saikei, and suiseki worldwide and was equally generous in her financial support of many bonsai and suiseki organizations.  A master of saikei plantings, Melba maintained a personal bonsai collection of over one hundred show trees of all styles.)

"Melba Tucker"
(ABS Bonsai Journal, Winter 1979, pg. 82)

("In Memoriam: Melba Tucker," Bonsai Journal, ABS, Fall 1999, pg. 113; "'A Happening At Davis' -- The All-Star Cast," Bonsai Journal, ABS, Winter 1979, pg. 82)

27 1975 -- Toshiji Yoshimura, a leader in both the bonsai and suiseki worlds and the owner of the Meguro Kofu-en Bonsai Nursery in southwestern Tokyo, died at age 83.  (His mother had enjoyed taking care of the field and plants and potted plants -- at the time the word "bonsai" was only used among specialists and not yet generally employed.  She told Toshiji when he was seven that everyone was attracted to foreign products, but potted plants were something that would strikingly surprise the foreign countries.  He was already collecting and making bonkei, miniature landscapes made with real or artificial plants and rocks, all contained in a shallow container.  A bonsai dealer who worked with their garden happened to see and buy a bonkei which Toshiji had made.  He realized the truth in what his mother had said, that the more one studies art, the better the results will be.  So he continued to collect potted plants and in the evenings would stroll the bonsai booths at fairs held on the streets.  At about age 14 he became an apprentice at Yonekichi "Beio" Kibe's Taiko-en nursery, and continued receiving strict training and discipline until Beio died in 1920.  Toshiji also must have learned techniques from well-known bonsai enthusiasts who were customers of Taiko-en.  He worked for four more years under Hanjiro Kibe, Beio's son-in-law and successor.  Then Toshiji established his own garden, Meguro Kofu-en.)
       (By this time his name was well-known, namely for his skills exhibited when he served as the caretaker of the displays at Shotenchi-kai.  Shotenchi-kai, mainly organized by the seniors of Keio University and members of the social club Kojunsha, was led for a while by Beio of Taiko-en and was a gathering of leading people in society including politicians and businessmen who were bonsai and suiseki enthusiasts.  They met once a month at the popular Kōyō-kan "Maple Club" restaurant on the west corner of Shiba Park (a little ways south of the Imperial Palace), and these gatherings continued from mid-Meiji times until the Great Kanto Earthquake.  (The meetings were restarted sometime afterwards and went on until the late 1930s.)  The ordinary members of Shotenchi-kai were those who owned bonsai and suiseki and displayed them at the gatherings.  Associate members did not have these, but still attended every time.  Bonsai was thus held in high esteem by these movers and shakers of Japan.  Calm and serene, with confidence and determination, Toshiji Yoshimura was well-respected in the group and made it flourish.)

Display at Shotenchi-kai, 1925, Kinbon, Oct 2011, pg. 45
"A photograph from the 5th edition, No. 12 of the magazine 'Bonsai.'
It shows a display at the Shotenchi-kai held at Koyo-kan in Shiba Park in 1925.
The display uses a golden fan-style hanso style.
The organizers were Aso, Uematsu, and Murakami.
There were more than 10 attendees, including Kitagawa, Yamana, and Chubachi."
(Kinbon magazine, October 2011, pg. 45)

       (He was recognized by his own customers for his outstanding skills and character.  He applied the preference of the customers', who were bonsai enthusiasts, into the style of the bonsai, rather than stressing his own style.  His Kofu-en usually then held two or three displays at the Kokufu-ten bonsai exhibitions during the 1930s, although, according to exhibition records, there were times that the Yoshimuras, including his younger brother's garden, Koka-en, held seven or eight displays there.  Toshiji was one of the first to start making creative rock-planting bonsai and often displayed rock-plantings at the Kokufu-ten.  Along with Keiji Murata of Koki-en and Itsuzo Okamura of Ichiraku-en, he established the Japan Suiseki Association.)
       [Toshiji's son Kinichi would succeed him in running Meguro Kofu-en.  Toshiji's most famous child was Yuji Yoshimura.]

Fumi and Toshiji Yoshimura, July 1961, International Bonsai, 1998/No. 1, pg. 30
"Fumi and Toshiji Yoshimura [Yuji's parents]
in their Kofu-En Bonsai Garden in July 1961."
(Photo by Yuji Yoshimura)
(International Bonsai, 1998/No. 1, pg. 30)

(Personal e-mail from William N. Valavanis to RJB on Feb. 12, 2006; "A Talk on Masterpiece Bonsai and Master Artists, No. 16 - Toshiji Yoshimura (1891-1975) - Kofu-en," Kinbon magazine, October 2011, pp. 44-47, English translation kindly provided to RJB in personal e-mails from WNV 12 and 13 Nov 2011, the latter including comments from Toshiji's grand-daughter, Emi, who helped with the translation; Japan, The Official Guide, Board of Tourist Industry, Japanese Government Railways, 1941 Revised & Enlarged Edition, pp. 260, 264-265.)    SEE ALSO: Sep 1, Dec 11
31 1932 -- Max Candy was born in Sydney, Australia.  [He would go on to become a major figure in bonsai Down Under, specializing in Ficus specimens.]  (Postings in by Grant Bowie, 14 Mar 2010 and 23 Mar 2010; personal e-mail to RJB from Betty Candy 11 Sep 2011)    SEE ALSO: Dec 16

1973 -- The San Antonio Bonsai Society's organizational meeting took place with seven prospective members in attendance.  [Its first opportunity to present its talent would come during the San Antonio Garden Center's Spring Flower Show. The Bonsai members' efforts would be awarded several blue ribbons and the Society would win the Sweepstakes Award in Horticulture.  By the end of its first club year, the Society's success would be reflected in a membership of 41 motivated enthusiasts.  In 1988 the Society would incorporate and host the BCI 24th Annual International Bonsai Congress.  In 1996 it would host the Lone Star Bonsai Federation Annual Convention.]  ("San Antonio Bonsai Society, Inc. Purpose and History,"

Also this month,

1965 -- The first meeting of the Bonsai Society of Australia occurred at the Sydney suburb of Roseville. The group was founded by Dorothy and Vita Koreshoff.  [Thirty years later the meeting place for the oldest bonsai organization in Australia would be moved to approximately 45 km northwest to Normanhurst, and in October 2000 the meetings would start to be held in West Pennant Hills.] ("Club Meetings," Bonsai Society of Australia Inc., )   SEE ALSO: Jan 28

1969 -- A major suiseki discovery was made when the "Hongwan Reiseki" stone was found after being missing for centuries.  The "Hongwan Reiseki" is more than 700 years old.  It was originally discovered by Shinran Shonin (1173-1262), the founder of the Jodoshu sect of Buddhism.  During 1580, with the War of Ishiyama raging through the area, the stone was transferred to the Fukozu Temple near Kyoto for safe-keeping by Kennyo Shonin, the eleventh generation successor to Shinran Shonin.  And then it disappeared until the twentieth century when it was discovered in a warehouse of the Fukuzo Temple.  The authenticity of the "Hongwan Reiseki" was confirmed through writings found in the box with the stone.  The writings, dated equivalent to April 13, 1585, were by Shoun, who wrote of the transfer of the stone by Kennyo Shonin. (In 1272, the principle temple of Shinran's sect in Kyoto, built by his daughter and grandson, was given the name of Hongwan-ji.  The Shin Jodo Shu or True Pure Land sect became immensely popular, and while denying the necessity of a priestly organization, nonetheless gave rise to large communities of believers served by temples and priests,  The Jodo-shin-shu sect is, perhaps, the Buddhist equivalent of Protestantism in Japan.)    ("History of Suiseki" "With thanks to: Miss Sachiye Hirotsu and Kashu Suiseki Kai, Redwood City, Calif.," Bonsai Magazine, BCI, Vol. IX, No. 5, June, 1970, pg. 11; Papinot, E.  Historical and Geographical Dictionary of Japan (Tokyo: Charles E. Tuttle Company, Inc.; 1972.  Reprinting of original 1910 work.  Seventh printing, 1982), pp. 576-577)

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