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


Days 11 - 20
Days 21 - 30 +

 1 1998 -- Hideo "Leroy" Fujii died in Phoenix, AZ at age 73 while on the way home with other members from a demonstration he gave as part of the Phoenix Bonsai Society's display on this last day of the Arizona State Fair.  (A co-founding member of the Phoenix Bonsai Society (1962) and its sensei for 28-1/2 years, Leroy was a quiet-spoken local bonsai master who was preparing to finally receive national exposure at the ABS Symposium in Tucson in late April/early May, 1999.  Transforming nondescript nursery stock trees at club meetings into definite bonsai, he preferred that his students work hands-on their own trees to gain experience.  He had been a landscaper around the Valley of the Sun for four decades and many homes still bear his distinctive mark of full-grown trees with distinct and classic foliage layers.  Leroy's life, as well as that of club founder Paul Matsusaki and long-time honorary teacher John Naka, was told in the Nov. 1997 work, Designing Dwarfs in the Desert.)

(LeRoy [sic] Fujii, Phoenix Bonsai Society Yearbook 1972-73, pg. 4)

"After several minutes and lots of clipping, [Bonsai artist Leroy] Fujii presents his finished product [from a Japanese juniper tree]."
(The Arizona Republic, April 12, 1996, pg. 8, photo by Charles Krejcsi)

("In Memoriam" by RJB (uncredited), Bonsai Journal, ABS, Vol. 32, No. 4, Winter 1998, pg. 152)   SEE ALSO: Apr 4

2013 -- Influential Central and South American teacher Jorge Lucero died. ("In Memory of Jorge Lucio Lucero", found in response to private message from Alejandro Bedini G. to RJB on Facebook, 11 Feb 2014, "i heard Mr. Jorge Lucero has left Us. Do you know about that?")   SEE ALSO: Jul 1, Sep 22
 2 1914 -- Giovanna Mary Durst was born in Florence, Italy.  Her father was an artist and ran a small shop near the Ponte Vecchio.  [Giovanna ("Vanna") would grow up in Italy but go to high school at St. Mary's, Calne in Wiltshire, England before attending Oxford University where she would study Italian and French at St. Anne's College.  She would meet Aubrey Seymour Halford, who'd be studying the same languages at Magdalen College.  They would become engaged soon after and on graduating he would join the Foreign Office as Third Secretary in 1937 and she would join MI6.  They would marry on September 7, 1939, just four days after war was declared.]
     [Aubrey S. Halford, CMG, CVO, MA was born in Birmingham on December 15, a motor manufacturing engineer's son of manifest ability.  Aubrey would win a scholarship to King Edward VI School, Birmingham, and in due course read Modern Languages at Magdalen College.  Serving in the Middle East, North Africa, and Rome during the war, the couple would welcome their first two sons in 1943 and 1944.  A third son would be born in London in 1947.]
     [The year after the couple welcomed their only daughter in 1952, they would be stationed in Japan for two years.  (The two older sons would be away at boarding school in England as wards of Giovanna's parents.  Education would be very important to the Halfords and at that time all diplomat children would go to boarding schools.)  Thus, right after the post-war Allied occupation of the islands, the Halfords would find themselves enchanted by ancient Japanese customs, and go on to write and publish The Kabuki Handbook: A Guide to Understanding and Appreciation, with Summaries of Favourite Plays, Explanatory Notes and Illustrations (Rutland, VT: Charles E. Tuttle Company; 1956; reissued 1998).  Giovanna would do the illustrations in that book herself.  She would be a wonderful water colour artist and paint a record of all the places she loved.  Also while in Japan, she would study at the Kofu-en for two years under bonsai master Yuji Yoshimura, complete the most advanced course, and assist him in the writing of The Japanese Art of Miniature Trees and Landscapes (Tuttle; 1957; reissused 1996).  She would bring to the writing of the book the ability to anticipate the Western reader's questions and problems.  While there had been a few earlier books in English by this time, this would be the first really comprehensive and practical work on the subject.  It would be received with excitement by those who were eager to learn classical bonsai.  (Forty-three years later, the thirty-seventh printing would be made of what some have referred to as the "Bonsai Bible in English" and which still provides valuable information to both novice and experienced enthusiasts.  Both of her books would remain continuously in print, the Kabuki Handbook only recently falling out.)  During their stay in Japan the couple would be given numerous gifts with which Giovanna would decorate their homes -- kakemono (wall hangings), prints, ornaments, bowls, fans, dolls, etc.  Japan would be a special place for them and they would be very happy there, although missing her two older sons terribly.]
     [The family would be reunited in Libya in 1955, and go on to Kuwait in 1957 and Munich in 1960.  While there, the first visit by a Kabuki troupe to the West would occur in Berlin.  The couple would travel the roughly 500 km (300 miles) north to Berlin to greet the actors, and the couple's colleagues would be greatly surprised when they learned that they were "the" Halfords who had written the Kabuki Handbook.  In 1964, with his children's agreement, Aubrey would append MacLeod to their surname.  About this time the couple would buy a house on the Isle of Harris where Giovanna would create a beautiful garden and cherish her bonsai which would always be the centrepiece of a festive meal.  Finally, Aubrey would serve as HM's Ambassador to Iceland beginning in 1966.  They would move to Edinburgh where he would work for the Scottish Council Development and Industry from 1970 until 1979.  Aubrey would become a director of Scottish Opera in 1971 and would remain so until he retired.  Giovanna would be the language coach for Scottish Opera for a number of years.  In 1979 they would move to Harris permanently.] 

Giovanna Halford in Japan, 1950s, courtesy of daughter Mary-Bess Halford
"One of my favourite photographs of my mother, it just happens to be in Japan so that makes it a suitable choice.
I don't know who she was talking to with an interpreter by her side but the photo conveys her ability to listen and be interested, essential qualities in a diplomat!"
(Photo courtesy of Mary-Bess Halford)


("The Descendants Of William Gibson 1804-1862,"; MacLeod, John  "Aubrey Halford-MacLeod,"; "Aubrey Halford-MacLeod,"; personal e-mails from Mary-Bess Halford-Staffel to RJB 23 Nov 2010, and 10 and 11 Feb 2011.)   SEE ALSO:  Jan 12, Apr 23
 3 1985 -- Saburō Katō was presented with the Ranjuhosho decoration by Japanese Prime Minister Nakasone.  The award is given to those who make exemplary contributions to the development of culture or international goodwill.  ("President's Message" by Jean C. Smith, Bonsai Magazine, BCI, March/April 1986, pg. 20)   SEE ALSO:  Apr 19, Oct 15, Nov 20

2001 -- The first annual Circle of Sensei Awards were presented by the Golden State Bonsai Federation.  The initial group of individuals so honored consisted of Harry Hirao, Mas Imazumi, and John Y. Naka.  These respected instructors have over 100 years of total teaching experience among them.  ("First Recipients Honored at Convention XXIV" by Sherwin Amimoto, Golden Statements, GSBF, Vol. XXV, No. 1, January/February 2002, pp. 18-19)  SEE ALSO: Jan 1, Mar 12, Oct 1, Oct 27, Dec 24, Dec 28

2001 -- Bonsai master Hideo Kato died at age 83. 

("Hideo Kato," Bonsai Magazine, BCI, Vol. 41, No. 1, January/February 2002, pg. 5)

2004 -- Tokyo's Showa Kinen Park, 444 acres of land that until 1977 was the U.S. military's Tachikawa Air Base about 10 miles from Yokota Air Base in Tachikawa, opened Japan's first government-sponsored bonsai garden in an effort to draw interest in this ancient art form.  The bonsai garden showcases 61 trees, all donated, many national competition award winners.  The oldest tree in the collection is 300 years old.  Nestled on the north end of the park's 15-acre Japanese garden area, the bonsai showcase exhibits the plants in a mostly outdoor setting allowing visitors to get close and contemplate the trees' shapes against the backdrop of the park's traditional buildings and landscaping.  "The special thing about bonsai is they change; they have more [character] as time passes," said Yushou Yabe, one of the park's two full-time bonsai caretakers.  Through the care or observation of a bonsai plant, enthusiasts say, one experiences all of the seasons and is brought closer to nature.  (Chandler, Stacy  "Tokyo garden displays the best of Japan's miniature bonsai trees," Stars and Stripes Scene, Sunday, December 19, 2004, )

 4 1937 -- Peter Aradi was born in Budapest, Hungary.  [He would graduate from engineering college in 1956 -- and also participate in the Hungarian Revolution that year.  He would escape from Hungary and be a refugee in Austria from 1956 to 1957, and then emigrate to the U.S.  Peter would serve in the U.S. Air Force as a photographer from 1958 to 1966.  He would work for the Associated Press for 17 days during the 1964 Tokyo [Late] Summer Olympics.  Peter would marry his wife, Shigemi, during that time.  Returning to the States and finding the competition in photography brutal in New York, he turned to computers instead for a living.  Peter would go to work for IBM and AT&T before joining American Airlines from 1968 to 1993.  (Occasionally he would return to photography as a hobby, especially after retirement.)  Based in Tulsa, OK from 1973 through 2006, he would be an Adjunct Instructor/Professor at various area universities and colleges from 1993 to 2003.  The couple would raise two sons.
        [Peter would become interested in Japanese art in 1959 while in Hawaii.  He would be exposed to bonsai and suiseki while in Japan, and once his work-connected travels became manageable, he would start a bonsai collection in 1977 and become a student of Shig Miya of Los Angeles.  Pat Coen, a nationally prominent stone collector from Tulsa would introduce him to viewing stones.  Peter's long-time interest in Japanese art, aesthetics and history helped him progress quickly, as would his frequent visits to bonsai conventions, nurseries and Japan.  Artist-teachers Bill Valavanis and Sean Smith would also be very influential in his development.  A Buddhist background and practice was the foundation upon which this all would grow.
        [Peter's six-part series of articles "Visiting With the Masters" would be published in the American Bonsai Society's Journal between 2000 and 2002.  (Three other articles by Peter would be published in the Journal between 1997 and 1999.)  His article "Gems of bonsai and saikei at the 1964 Olympic Games" would be published at the beginning of 2003 in International Bonsai magazine.  The two-part article "A Tale of Two Cities -- Comparing Viewing Stone Shows in Shanghai, China and Kyoto, Japan" would see print in that periodical the following year.  He would also give presentations before various bonsai clubs on the topic of Japanese and Chinese viewing stones, illustrating them with specimens from his own collection.  (A handful of Japan-related topics would be presented over the years to non-bonsai groups as well.)  A stay in Kyoto, Japan would be followed by a return to Tulsa in August 2003, and then a move to San Antonio, TX three years later.  He would visit the Peoples Republic of China twice and Taiwan once.  On their first trip to the PRC the couple would be honored at a banquet by Tsinghua University, Beijing, and be invited as guests to the First International Duo Lung Viewing Stone Symposium and Exhibit in Shanghai (2003).  They would also visit Suzhou, the home of the most famous scholar/literati style gardens in China, that year and in 2005.  A collaboration with Alan Walker in Chinese and English, "Contemporary Stone Appreciation," would be published in the first issue of Shanghai's Global Bonsai and Stone Collection in 2005.  Shigemi and Peter would celebrate their 50th wedding anniversary in Kyoto in 2014.  All in all he probably would make about 30 trips to Japan, including business, family occasions and vacations.
        [By 2015 Peter would be completely retired and no longer write or give presentations.  James Greaves of Santa Monica, CA, would have established an American Viewing Stone Resource Center over two decades earlier and it would now become part of The Huntington Library, San Marino, CA.  Jim would be named its first curator.  He would acquire the most important stones and books from Peter's collection and donate them to the Library.  About 95% of Peter's collection would be bought by Jim and two local San Antonio collectors.  Peter's selected papers would be edited and they would also go to the Huntington Library.]

Peter & Shigemi Aradi at the 02/2005 Kokufuten.
(Photo courtesy of Alan Walker, 05/11/07)

(Facebook personal info,; The Indices 2004; posting on Internet Bonsai Club, Aug. 22, 2009, Ling Bi Wen Stone Appreciation; personal email with detailed CV to RJB, June 28 and July 1, 2015; personal email to RJB, March 3, 2016; Facebook posting on May 28, 2017.)   SEE ALSO:  Sep 3, Oct 10
 5 1984 -- California teacher Frank Ekizo Iura died at age 88.  (SSN Master File by Birthdate)   SEE ALSO: Mar 20, Jun 6

1985 -- The Emperor of Japan bestowed upon bonsai master John Naka the most prestigious award for a non-Japanese citizen, The Fifth Class of the Order of the Rising Sun (Bonsai Techniques by John Naka, pg. 262 with b&w photo)   SEE ALSO:  Aug 16, Oct 1, Oct 10

1994 --  Elandan Gardens opened to the public on six acres of a former landfill for the City of Bremerton, WA.  During the previous three years, over 3,000 cubic yards of sandy fill dirt and over 1,500 tons of granite were used by three generations of Dan and Diane Robinson's family to create a landscape of old mossy logs, pristine ponds, waterfalls and streams.  Japanese influences are blended with a recreation of the wilds of the Northwest surrounded by the Puget Sound. This is the naturalistic setting for creatures and human visitors to study more than 150 world class bonsai -- maples, pines, cedars, hemlocks, and cypresses -- from Dan's private collection.  A 3,500 square foot greenhouse has been transformed into a gallery for rare and unusal plants, bonsai, tools, antiques, gifts and garden arts. ("Elandan Gardens" by Dan Robinson, Bonsai Magazine, BCI, May/June 1996, pp. 16-20; RJB telephone conversation with Diane Robinson, Apr. 15, 2000; see also Diane Robinson's "The History and Adventure of elandan Gardens," Bonsai Journal, ABS, Spring 2004, pp. 9-10 with 5 color photos)   SEE ALSO:  Jan 26

2002 -- The 1st African International Bonsai Convention started today in Pretoria, South Africa.  [Running through the 10th of the month, there were over one thousand bonsai of notable though not always refined quality on display.  Salvatore Liporace of Italy and Walter Pall of Germany  headlined for participants from Mozambique, Namibia, and South Africa.  TV cameras from the National Television  were present during Liporace's overcrowded workshop.]   ("A Grand Bonsai Debut in an Emerging Continent" by Alessandra Cappelletti, Bonsai Magazine, BCI, March/April 2003, pp. 32-35)

 6 1900 -- An auction of "rare and beautiful Japanese floral and arboreal plants, curiously and artistically trained, imported by the horticultural department of Messrs. Yamanaka & Co., Osaka, Japan, London, New York and Boston" started today in London.  The two-day event included some 300 items.  Of these, 81 were Japanese white pine [Pinus parviflora], 74 were compact hinoki cypress [Chamaecyparis obtusa 'Chabo-hiba'], 12 were sago palms [Cycas revoluta], 10 were Podocarpus species, and 2 were Chinese junipers [Juniperus chinensis].  A 43-page catalogue was produced for the event.  ("From Temple to Terrace, The Remarkable Journey of the Oldest Bonsai in America" by Peter Del Tredici (Jamaica, MA: Arnold Arboretum, Harvard University: Arnoldia 64/2-3, 2006), pp. 13, 30).   SEE ALSO: May 4, May 26, Nov 15

1961 -- British Pathé issued a color with sound video newsreel film entitled "Bonsai Trees" (aka "Bonzai Trees").  [Ian] Melville Clark of London, the leading British authority on these trees, is shown admiring and working on some trees, while his wife is watering/spraying trees including a 200-year-old shimpaku towards the end of the 2:30 minute film.  ("Bonsai on the newsreels" posting by Tim Stubbs, 19 July 2010, on the Internet Bonsai Club Forum).    SEE ALSO:  May 17

1999 -- The Golden State Bonsai Collection-North opened its gates on this date in the Lake Meritt Garden Center, Oakland, CA.  This was directly behind the Lakeside Garden Center complex which had been the scene of many bonsai meetings, shows and celebrations since the late 1960s.  (The lake itself, created in 1870, marked the opening of the first wildlife refuge in the United States.)  [The rooms would be available to Collection-North when indoor space was required.  With Kathy Shaner as curator and Japanese dry stream-type landscape architecture by Jim Ransohoff, the garden would contain donated trees and stones of John Naka, Harry Hirao, Katsumi Kinoshita, and Helen Murakoshi among others, behind the Friends of Mas Imazumi Entry Gate.  A stunning California juniper styled by Masahiko Kimura would also be an early resident.  Meandering pathways would lead viewers to benches and pedestals displaying 25 to 50 trees rotated out of a collection of about a hundred.  Ten months after opening, as of the end of August, there would have been some 14,030 visitors.] ("Golden State Bonsai Collection-North Docents Inducted into Hall of Fame" by Chuck Gallagher, Golden Statements, GSBF, November/December 2000, pg. 6; Golden State Bonsai Collection-North, ; "Golden State Bonsai Collection-North Lakeside Garden Center" brochure, written and designed by Dorothy Hayden Land, Feb. 23, 1997; "Oakland's Bonsai Park -- Life and Death among Little Trees" by D.M. Roche, New California Media Online, January 14, 2000,   SEE ALSO: Mar 10, May 19, Nov Also, Dec 24
 7 1975 -- Marco Invernizzi was born in Milan, Italy.  [He would be inspired by the movie "The Karate Kid, Part III" ("Karate kid III - la sfida finale," released in Italy 24 Aug 1989) and his mom would give him a tree at Christmas of 1991.  Thus at age 16 his life would change and he would decide to become a bonsai master.  He would obtain a Degree in Master of Art from the private high school "Istituto d'Arte Beato Angelico" in 1992.  From 1992 to 1997 he would study under Salvatore Liporace in Milan, working with him almost every day helping him in the daily work at his nursery.  He also would assist Salvatore during demonstrations and workshops all over Europe.  In 1993 he would travel for the first time to Japan for a study trip of two weeks and he would meet for the first time his future Japanese Master, Masahiko Kimura.  The following year Marco would receive a High School Degree in Architecture at the "Istituto d'Arte Beato Angelico" and start college at the "Accademia di Comunicazione", the second best design school of Europe.  In 1995 he would be selected by the Italian Bonsai Association as its national representative for the first New European Talent Competition, make a second study trip to Japan, place himself third at the Best Italian Bonsai Demonstrators Competition, and start to work part time in two nurseries in Italy as a Bonsai Consultant.  The year after being a demonstrator at the Italian Bonsai Congress (1996), Marco would obtain a College degree in Design with a Master in Graphic Design and Industrial Design and go to Tokyo where he would study under Masahiko Kimura, one of the greatest bonsai masters in the world.  For almost four years Marco would be the first non-Japanese disciple to follow a traditional bonsai apprenticeship.  Beginning in 1998 he would write for a number of the specialty magazines. In 2000 he would be the Headliner Demonstrator at the Italian Bonsai Congress and would repeat this for the next 5 years in a row.  He would also be Art Director of the exhibitions there.  Since 2001 he would go back to Japan 4-5 times a year to continue his learning path.  His first book in Italian about his experience in Japan and titled To Japan on my bonsai way would be published in 2003.  He would make appearances on the most important national TV, Website and Radio shows and reviews of the book would be published in over 20 national newspapers and magazines.  His convention headlining would occur throughout Europe, South Africa, South America, and North America.  In 2006 he would become "an incredibly nomadic professional bonsai artist" teaching, lecturing and demonstrating on five continents around the world.  After eight years of design study in 2009 his personally-designed tool, Ichiban, weighing 100gm and replacing seven instruments, would be manufactured by reknowned bonsai tool-smith Masakuni III and be introduced to the world at the World Bonsai Convention in San Juan, PR.  The Marco Invernizzi Bonsai School @ Willowbog Bonsai in the North East of England would be established, with Marco both as a regular teacher in the studio, and a source of hand-picked Japanese and European material for their sale benches.  See also these Italian video interviews.]

Marco Invernizzi, 06/04.
(Photo courtesy of Alan Walker, 05/11/07)

Ichiban bonsai tool.

("Profile,"; "Profile: Marco Invernizzi,"; "Ichiban,"   SEE ALSO: Mar 31, May 15, Oct 15
 8 1980 -- The Constitutional Meeting of the Spanish Bonsai Association was organized by Dr. Gustavo Piera with assistance of representatives from seven clubs in five cities meeting in Valencia.  The clubs were from Barcelona (3), Madrid (1), Seville (1), Alicante (1), and Valencia (1).  ("Club Corner Correction," Bonsai Magazine, BCI, Jan/Feb 1982, pg. 28)
10  2014 - Paul Goff died at age 62 following a severe stroke the previous week.  (Born in 1952, he enjoyed a life of art and creativity encompassing architecture, rock music, painting, photography, and bonsai.  Much of his work was published on video or DVD.  He authored many magazine articles, and his photography and illustration talents covered a wide variety of topics.  These were featured in commercial literature, journals, periodicals, magazines, books, reference material, and on many websites.  He also made a large archive of digital images available to publishers and designers.  He worked in oils, watercolours, chalk pastels, and airbrushing.)
     (Paul began studying and creating bonsai in 1970, and lately he was creating many traditional display arrangements with bonsai, scrolls, and suiseki.  His works were featured on television, video, books, magazines, and exhibitions throughout the UK and Europe.  In 1994 he co-authored with Harry Tomlinson The Bonsai Year Book.  "This is the first book to clearly address the timing of bonsai care and training and includes a detailed month-by-month guide.  There are over 160 color photographs that clearly illustrate the steps to be taken and provide inspiration as well.  This is an essential companion for seasonal maintenance and care.  96 pages."  (DaSu Bonsai Studios).  One of his on-line articles is "Considering the placement in a tokonoma" (reprinted from Chapter 6 of Craig Coussins' 2006 book Bonsai Master Class).  Another article is "Bonsai presentation; use of Haiku in a Tokonoma display, at Bonsai Empire in 2013.  Paul and his partner Viviene were traders (vendors) at several exhibits in the UK.  He created beautiful mini scroll sets which were ideal for the smaller bonsai sizes like Mame and Shohin which could be designed and made to individual requirements as well as creating one piece scrolls with fantastic eye catching illustrations.  Paul's fantastic scrolls were a regular feature at the former British Shohin Association shows.  There were many award-winning exhibits in which one of his scrolls formed an integral part of the design.  And he was instrumental in setting up the BSA Show book produced a few years earlier.  He was also the official photographer for many bonsai exhibitions and events in Europe and produced several educational videos featuring Harry Tomlinson and Kevin Wilson, including Bonsai: The Danny Use Collection at Ginkgo.  Paul presented a demonstration for at least one club in 2011 on how to photograph bonsai.  His photos of the trees of The National Bonsai Collection at the Birmingham Botanical Gardens grace that website.  As noted by teacher/artist Tony Tickle, Paul "was a true character in the British bonsai scene, flamboyant and hugely talented he was always eager to share his knowledge."  For several years he produced a monthly newsletter called The Bonsai Review.  His own bonsai website was and his personal website was   ("Paul Goff,"; "Paul Goff of Bonsai presentations,"; "Paul Goff, Bonsai Display," in September 2007 issue of Billboard, the Newsletter of the Bonsai Society of Upstate New York)   SEE ALSO: Mar 2, Apr 6, Jun 29, Nov 22

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