This Bonsai Master’s Greatest Work of Art is a Loving Tribute to his Grandkids


goshin by john naka bonsai forest for grandchildren (5)

Goshin (Japanese: “protector of the spirit”) is a bonsai created by Bonsai Master John Yoshio Naka. It is a forest planting of eleven Foemina junipers (Juniperus chinensis), the earliest of which Naka began training into bonsai in 1948.

Naka donated it to the National Bonsai Foundation in 1984 for display at the United States National Arboretum and it has been there ever since. The individual trees represent Naka’s 11 grandchildren. [source]

Photograph above by Sage Ross

goshin by john naka bonsai forest for grandchildren (3)

Photograph by Sage Ross

Naka began working with the first two of the eleven trees that would ultimately make up Goshin in 1948. Goshin first took shape as a forest planting around 1964. Inspired by a forest of Cryptomeria japonica near a shrine in Japan, Naka first combined the four trees he had already developed into a single, 4-foot-tall (1.2 m) composition. He soon added three more, to create…

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Grand Indonesian Bonsai and Suiseki Exhibition 2014

Bonsai Penjing & More

The Indonesian Bonsai Society (PPBI) celebrated its 35th anniversary with a grand bonsai and suiseki show, October 11-19, held simultaneously at two locations! One in Bandung city in West Java, the other in the resort island, Bali. Several international masters such as Kunio Kobayashi, Gede Merta, Ng Shing Fat, Min Hsuan Lo, were invited to give demos. Since my wife and I were going to Bali around that time, we scheduled our trip so that we could attend the show.

The PPBI has about 15,000 members and 135 chapters throughout the country. Such a large organization attests to the popularity of bonsai in this country, and no wonder, we see many outstanding trees and talented bonsai artists from Indonesia.

In Bali, the exhibition was held out door at the Badung city hall. Individual trees were displayed in rows on tables or pedestals, no companion plants nor Japanese style displays. There are two to three hundred…

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Displaying Bonsai with a Companion Plant – Is It a 20th Century Revival of an Ancient Practice?

Bonsai Penjing & More

It is now customary to display bonsai with a small companion plant, also called an accent or complimentary plant. In bonsai circle, a companion plant is often called a kusamono, but the correct term is shitakusa, an understory grass or herb, when it is displayed with bonsai. Such a display is based on the indoor tokonoma (alcolve) display of a Japanese home. Sometimes a suiseki viewing stone, a small art object or a scroll is used instead of a companion plant, and in various combinations. The guidelines can be very complicated. Morten Albek has a series of excellent articles on the display principles and guidelines.

IMG_5794-001 I displayed this Chinese Elm with an Oxalis companion plant at the 2013 Lone Star State Convention Show in New Braunfel. The tree was trained by the clip-and-grow method.

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Just when I thought it was safe…

Scratch Bonsai

…the weather reverted to winter conditions. From being a balmy 17 degrees c last week, it struggled to get warmer than 7 today. Frost last night with overnight temp of -1c and wintry storms today. And its nearly May!! When I realised at the weekend that the temperature was falling, all of the repotted trees and anything with tender shoots and buds went back into the glasshouse. I’ll have to play it by ear though as the sun is still strong through the glass.


I have a mature pieris japonica in the garden which was at the peak of it beautiful fluorescent pink flowering. Ruined overnight unfortunately.


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