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World Bonsai Day: A Legacy of Peace and Friendship

For most, the mention of bonsai calls to mind images of whimsical, miniature trees. While this is, in essence, true, the art of bonsai is much more than just a fun hobby. In caring for a bonsai tree, even a casual bonsai enthusiast learns not only technique and horticultural science, but also about the beauty of nature.

Caring for a living thing whose life span exceeds our own is a humbling lesson in compassion and respect for life. Consider the fact that a 390-year-old bonsai survived the atomic bombing of Hiroshima and is now housed in the U.S. National Arboretum in Washington, D.C. While it is amazing that this tree survived at all, its relocation to America is also a powerful statement on peace and friendship between two different cultures.

This is bonsai no kokoro—or, the spirit of bonsai. This concept was first described by bonsai master Saburo Kato (1915–2008), the third-generation owner of Mansei-en, a bonsai nursery just north of Tokyo in Omiya, Japan. As a testament to his life’s work, today the nursery is known as Omiya Bonsai Village and has become the “Bonsai Mecca” of the world!

Throughout his life, Mr. Kato worked tirelessly to promote the art of bonsai and inspire countless people around the world to learn the skills necessary to care for one. In 1989, he founded and became first chairman of the World Bonsai Friendship Federation, whose mission is to bring peace and goodwill to the world through the art of bonsai. Together with American bonsai master John Naka, Mr. Kato began work on creating a network of public bonsai exhibitions meeting the criteria to be designated World Bonsai Friendship Federation Resource Centers. The Morikami Bonsai Exhibition received this distinction in 2013.

This weekend, we are celebrating the fourth annual World Bonsai Day (held every second Saturday of May in honor of Saburo Kato)—will you be joining us? Read on to discover what this special day has in store:

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PHOTOGRAPH COURTESY U.S. NATIONAL ARBORETUM

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World Bonsai Day

Saturday, May 14, 2016
10am–5pm
FREE with paid museum admission

Bonsai Demonstrations | 11am & 1pm

Stop by and learn about the art of bonsai from Morikami’s very own experienced pruners. Get a crash course on how to keep your bonsai looking its best year-round. If you’re lucky, you’ll be able to snag your very own cutting to plant at home!

Bonsai Clinic | All Day

Do you have an ailing bonsai tree under your care? Fear not, because the doctor is in! Meet with our bonsai team to diagnose the problem and figure out a course of action for your plant’s recovery.

Morikami Bonsai Exhibition Tours | 12pm & 2pm

Enjoy a guided tour of the Morikami Bonsai Exhibition, designated a World Bonsai Friendship Federation Resource Center in 2013.

Bonsai Shopping | All Day

Convinced you’ve got what it takes to become a bonsai master? Get your start today with a fledgling bonsai tree ready to nurture. Plus, pick up your very own World Bonsai Day t-shirt!

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