When listing the top 10 bonsai trees in the world that you want to know, we want to highlight that each and every bonsai tree specimen is a miniature Universe of its own.
And while it is impossible to compare the beauty and wisdom residing in different bonsai trees across the globe, there are particular bonsai tree species hiding incredible stories to be told.
1 – Master Kobayashi’s 800-year-old Bonsai Trees in Shunkaen
Acknowledged as one of the experts of bonsai tree gardening, Master Kunio Kobayashi shares a genuine passion for bonsai.
It was his passion that made him open and starts operating the Shunkaen Bonsai Museum located in Tokyo. It is in Shunkaen Museum where two of the oldest bonsai trees are proudly displayed – each of these being over 800 years of age!
Video by Bon Sai – Visiting the bonsai garden of Kunio Kobayashi
2 – Ficus retusa Linn: The Oldest Bonsai Tree in the World
It might be surprising to find out that the oldest bonsai tree in the world is not located in Japan but in Italy!
It wasn’t before 1986 that Luigi Crespi – the founder of Crespi Bonsai Museum, finally gained ownership over the oldest bonsai tree.
The Ficus retusa Linn which is estimated at 1000+ years old was first taken care of Chinese masters before the Japanese bonsai master Shotaro Kawahara stepped in. Ever since Luigi Crespi and Alberto Lavazza have been taking care of the amazing specimen.
3 – One of Japan’s National Treasures: Sandai Shogun no Matsu
Named after Shogun Tagawa Iemitsu who was the first owner of the incredible five-needle bonsai tree, Sandai Shogun no Matsu has been passed down from emperor to emperor ever since.
Displayed in the Tokyo Imperial Palace collection, Sandai Shogun no Matsu is over 500 years old.
4 – The Bonsai Tree that Survived the Hiroshima Atomic Bomb Tragedy: Yamaki Pine
Astonishingly, little was known about the incredible story of the Yamaki pine when it was first donated to the United States by Masaru Yamaki in 1976.
It was all the way in 2001 when Mr. Yamaki’s grandchildren showed up to check on the tree, providing the National Arboretum with invaluable insights revealing the true origin of the spectacular bonsai that survived the Hiroshima atomic bomb attack.
During the 70th anniversary of the Hiroshima bombing in 2015, the National Arboretum honored Yamaki pine’s history.
Video by CBS Evening News – Bonsai tree aids Japanese and American relations
5 – “The Picasso of Bonsai”: Dan Robinson’s Mountain Hemlock
Dan Robinson is deservedly called the Picasso of bonsai, for he is not only a dedicated and talented bonsai artist but he is also one of the pioneers of bonsai art.
Deeply faithful and inspired by the traditional Japanese bonsai techniques, Dan Robinson shares his respect for the living nature by further spreading the knowledge for bonsai across the world.
6 – “Protector of the Spirits” – John Naka’s Bonsai Masterpiece from 1948
One of the trailblazers of spreading the knowledge about bonsai with the world – John Y. Naka started the cultivation of what was about to turn into a masterpiece known as “Goshin” (translated into “Protector of Spirits”) in 1948.
To complete the admirable bonsai art, John Naka used 11 different trees.
In 1984, Jonh Naka donated Goshin to the United States National Bonsai Foundation, following his mission of melting away all boundaries between bonsai and the world.
Video by NBFBonsai – John Naka Repotting Goshin
7 – The Largest Bonsai in the World – Red Pine Bonsai
One unusual example in the list of top 10 bonsai trees in the world is located in the Akao Herb and Rose Garden. The Red Pine bonsai is not only the largest but also among the oldest bonsai trees, aged 600+.
Despite its impressive size of 30 feet in width and 16 feet in height, it does qualify as a bonsai for it is contained within a pot and proudly displayed in order to further spread the fame and beauty of bonsai.
8 – The 1000 Years Old Bonsai Tree Collected from the Wilds of Japan
It is in the Mainsei-en nursery (one of the six bonsai gardens that altogether create the Omiya Bonsai Village), an ancient Juniper tree collected from the wilds resides. Owned by the Kato family, Mainsei-en nursery was officially opened all the way back in 1925.
Video by TokyoStreetView – Japan The Beautiful – Omiya Bonsai Village – Saitama – 大宮盆栽村 – 4K Ultra HD
9 – The Crespi Cup Award Winner: Rocky Mountain Juniper
A highly gifted and truly impressive bonsai enthusiast, Walter Pall is the mastermind behind Rocky Mountain Juniper bonsai that won the most prestigious Crespi Cup Award.
Praised for his dramatically shaped bonsai masterpieces, Walter Pall indulges in bonsai for the mere joy, and not for commercial purposes. In fact, he sometimes refuses to be referred to as a bonsai master.
10 – The Surreal Beauty of Wisteria Bonsai Trees
Wisteria trees in bloom have a very special place in Japanese culture.
From the traditional wisteria flower dance through the mesmerizing wisteria flower tunnel, merging the beauty of wisteria trees with the art of bonsai creates nothing less but surrealistic pieces of art.
Video by Harper’s Bazaar – This Wisteria Flower Tunnel in Japan Is the Most Magical Place Ever
Admiring the top 10 bonsai trees in the world, words seem to fail in expressing all the feelings that come to our minds and hearts. Only poetry speaks where everything else fails to.