Bonsai Master Masahiko Kimura

My wife said I had to give up bonsai or she was going to leave me. Oh God, am I going to miss her?


It is more likely that you have heard jokes or puns like these if you are a bonsai aficionado. In contrast to our article’s subject, he was a master who rejected the conventional methods of bonsai care and never opted for anything less!

The Japanese art form of bonsai has a long history. It’s one of the most well-known representations of Japanese culture, along with ikebana and Zen gardens. In the present, Masahiko Kimura is currently regarded as the greatest bonsai master alive.

What is Bonsai?

Japan has been more and more popular around the world in recent decades, and this popularity has only increased interest in everything Japanese, including video games, cuisine, and even fashion. However, these features just scratch the surface of a society that is incredibly diverse and occasionally bewilderingly intricate.

Travelers to Japan quickly discover that a richer and more fulfilling understanding of Japanese culture can always be obtained outside of the main cities’ flashing lights, busy streets, and towering skyscrapers. One method for doing this is through bonsai, one of Japan’s most delicate and subtle artistic traditions.

What exactly is the purpose of bonsai? Can it possibly be anything other than a small tree in a pot?

A bonsai can be grown using a variety of methods, including pinching buds, wiring and pruning branches, and limiting but not giving up fertilizers. By doing this, the tree’s height will be limited to four feet as it grows healthily.

Similar to the many different Japanese art forms, bonsai is a difficult yet delicate process in which the plant’s desired gravity comes from the simplicity of the aesthetic, the end result of excruciating hard labor and patience.

Bonsai is governed by a series of aesthetic rules that range from an opposition to symmetry to a desire to precisely match the proportions of a fully-grown tree, all of which must be executed without any trace of the artist’s handiwork. 

What is Bonsai Forest?

Simply put, a bonsai forest is a collection of bonsai trees that have been potted in a single container. This method often utilizes various bonsai trees of the same species, but you may alternatively create bonsai forests using a variety of trees.

Since different plant species have varied needs, using them calls for a more complicated strategy. In order to successfully establish your bonsai forest, it is therefore best to group the species that have identical needs.

It gets more difficult to build a bonsai forest as more species are added to the container.

The trunks of some species can resemble the limbs above the ground because they multiply from a single underground root in these instances. The term “Kabudachi technique” refers to this method.

Trees typically withstand windy conditions and rain. Roots are encouraged to grow near the surface where the soil has small subterranean holes as a result of the soil becoming softer after rain. These elements all combine to lessen the tree’s ability to withstand strong winds.

However, despite the odds being against them, plants have a strong capacity for survival. The bonsai artist attempts to depict the natural environment with results that are as lovely as the full-sized specimens produced by nature, just as nature pushes a tree to adapt.

Who is Masahiko Kimura?

Masahiko Kimura, a renowned bonsai master, was born in Miya-ku, Saitama, Japan, on March 31, 1940.

Masahiko was 11 when his father passed away. At the age of 15, he began going out of his way as an apprentice with Toju-en Bonsai Garden’s bonsai master, Motosuke Hamano, in line with the wishes of his mother. This lasted eleven years, until around 1966. Although he had a strong desire to become a rock and roll musician, he started doing horticulture work on his own.

He later came to be known as the “Magical Technician of Kindai Shuppan.” His magnificent sculpting and styling of trees was reflected in using hand and power tools of his own design on behalf of the Kyoto Bonsai magazine publisher. He quickly rose to prominence in the world of bonsai very early in life because of his amazing skills with deadwood carving.

His trees are recognized for their complex deadwood details and their angular, austere features. This contemporary style places a high demand on trees, which have to be radically bent and twisted.

Although his art was at first very divisive, his drive and vision soon gained the same respect as his art. His trees have a distinct interplay between artistically sculpted deadwood and a lesser amount of living wood that has a more conventional appearance and rises from the ground to the foliage apex. Many of his trees are inventive and creative without precedence in the past, with more sophisticated juxtaposition than is typically found in nature.

Masahiko Kimura’s Influence

Initially, controversy erupted over his unique bonsai designs. Kimura, who some traditionalists viewed as a non-conforming artist, persisted in breaching the conventions of bonsai creation. The art typically entails caring for a single tree or shrub that has been placed in a container. Kimura had the wonderful idea of growing a little forest from a deadwood limb rather than just one miniature tree.

He has created and sold numerous versions of the Hinoki Forest. However, the original design, which he produced over 20 years ago, is still displayed with pride in his garden. His garden is accessible to the public upon request and is situated in Omiya, Japan.

Many bonsai artists from throughout the world have been captivated by Masahiko Kimura’s remarkable bonsai techniques. He provided workshops and demonstrations both inside and outside of Japan in order to impart his special cultivation methods. His writings have appeared in numerous prestigious journals all around the world. He has been winning important accolades since 1988 and has attracted many apprentices from many countries. Marco Invernizzi, Ryan Neil, Marc Noelanders, Salvatore Liporace, and Ernie Kuo are just a few of his students who went on to become bonsai masters in their own right.

Spreading The Art of Bonsai

Now, no one questions Kimura’s brilliance or his role as a forerunner in the bonsai industry.

Only the bonsai artist’s creativity can limit the forms and varieties of a bonsai forest. Additionally, this is the ideal medium for fostering uniqueness with as much scope for artistic expression as any naturally occurring forest formation offers. 

Visit our blog section to learn more about different species of bonsai.