Beauty of form created by nature, man and time. ”Bonsai Artist, Masahiko Kimura”

Beauty of form created by nature, man and time.
”Bonsai Artist, Masahiko Kimura”

Fostering the art of bonsai, and fostering bonsai artists.

In Saitama, Saitama Prefecture, there is a village called ”Bonsai Village”, indicating the deep relationship of Saitama Prefecture with ”bonsai”. Masahiko Kimura is a world famous ”bonsai” artist, making ”bonsai” in Saitama. He has received many glorious awards such as the Prime Minister’s Award, and he has been invited many times to give lectures about ”bonsai”, not only in Japan but throughout the world. There are many people who learned about ”bonsai” from him, and are now active as individual artists.
Kimura’s first impression is that of a serious and typical artisan. However the ”bonsai” he makes are very artistic, and therefore he is often introduced as an artist. Nakata was very impressed when he looked at his works and said, ”It looks as if the grandeur of natural landscape is concentrated in the pot.”

Where did ”bonsai” come from?

So, where lies the origin of bonsai? When we come to think of it, we really don’t know. So, Nakata asked the question straight to Kimura. ”There was a culture called ”bonkei” in China.”, that is making a miniature landscape on a tray.”
”I suppose it began when people went to mountains and brought back trees they liked in vessels. It is said that it dates back some several thousand years. Then it came via Korean Peninsula to Japan some 5 to 600 years ago. Since then, it was developed by Japanese until today, and is now established as a culture unique to Japan.”

Nakata had more questions to ask. ”Are the trees taken from nature?”

”Yes, that’s right. The trees are taken from mountains, the kind of trees that would grow naturally on the precipitous cliffs. The trees originally grew in a very harsh environment without any water or nutrition, so they are special species that don’t grow very much.”
Nakata was very surprised to hear it. He thought that the trees are dwarfed by human hands, but they were special species that were planted as bonsai.

The works grow with age.

When a tree is taken from nature and planted in a pot, it can already be defined as a ”bonsai”. However, that does not make a work of art. It has to be shaped, pruned, and grown to become an art piece. An example of the change over the years was shown to Nakata and his staff, and they were very impressed by it.

They could understand very well that ”richness” of nature is growing within the pot. Kimura said that the Imperial Household Agency has a ”bonsai” that was loved by Iemitsu Tokugawa. That means it is about 400 years old. That may be exceptional, but there are bonsai that have lived for a few hundred years. Bonsai is something that changes and grows with time.

Kimura not only plant trees, but shave and shape the tree trunks, place stones to make trees grow from them. He created a ”world” within a ”bonsai”. In that artificial world, there exists nature that grows. Artificial world and nature; the charm of ”bonsai” may lie in the combination of the two.


Bonsai Artist Masahiko Kimura
Ina, Kitaadachi-gun, Saitama Prefecture