Bonsai is a Japanese art form that dates back centuries. Along with ikebana and Zen gardens, it’s one of the most recognizable expressions of Japanese culture around the world. Currently, there is no bonsai master as well respected as Masahiko Kimura. Seen as a rebel in his early years, his work was later accepted and he is now widely recognized as one of the greatest bonsai masters.
At first, Kimura’s designs were seen as controversial because they broke many traditional rules of bonsai. His work often features pieces of deadwood intertwined with living wood snaking about. One of his most famed bonsai is a Hanoki forest planting that is a sculptural masterpiece. Balanced on two pieces of interlocking slate, it features Hanoki cypress and Itoigawa Shimpaku Juniper.
The original version, which Kimura created over 20 years ago, is his prized possession. Though similar bonsai using the concept have gone up for sale, Kimura’s first version remains in his garden. Located in Omiya, Japan, Kimura opens his impressive garden up to the public upon request in order to share his award-winning trees with the public.
Born in 1940, Kimura is showing no signs of slowing down. Through his impressive network of apprentices around the world, his style and legacy have only grown over time. Kimura continues his work to keep the tradition of bonsai alive through exhibitions, demonstrations, and numerous publications.