2013 / Bonsai lecture about influence of Japanese American bonsai artists, Sept 28

Clark Bonsai Prostrata Juniper

Prostrata Juniper. Wind influenced style. Estimated age 30 years. Original artist Ray Thieme; acquired from the artist. (The Clark Center for Japanese Art & Culture)


The Clark Center for Japanese Art & Culture

15770 Tenth Ave, Hanford, CA 93230

(559) 582-4915  www.ccjac.org


Saturday, September 28 at 2 pm

Bonsai Lecture


Yamadori – The Influence of First and Second Generation Japanese American Bonsai Artists Using Native California Junipers

In Japan’s ancient times, a few intrepid men, skilled in the techniques of climbing dangerous, jagged cliff faces in the high mountains, risked their lives to obtain naturally stunted junipers to be turned into bonsai.

Bonsai created from these junipers were called yamadori, literally “taken from the mountain”.

Today, this specific term is no longer applied only to wild trees collected in the mountains but to any plant collected in the wild that is turned into a bonsai.

When the Japanese immigrants arrived in California they naturally brought many aspects of their culture with them, including the art of bonsai.

A small group of Issei (first generation) and Nisei (second generation) Japanese Americans, mostly in Southern California, began collecting native junipers from the high deserts and turned them into bonsai.

Native California Junipers have many of the same characteristics like distressed branches and trunks of partially dead wood and stunted growth, comparable to the junipers found in Japan.

Within a short time Yamadori California Junipers became the gold standard of bonsai plant material in the United States and some rank amongst the most famous and valuable bonsai in the world.

This holds true to this day. Although collecting plants in the wild is nowadays restricted to a few privately owned properties, California bonsai artists still follow in the footsteps of the ancient Japanese collectors and engage in expeditions.

The Clark Center has many fine examples of Yamadori California Junipers created by the pioneers of American bonsai.

Come and enjoy the natural beauty and the cultural history represented by California yamadori bonsai.

On Saturday, September 28 at 2 p.m. Bob Hilvers, Curator of Bonsai, will offer a narrated tour of the exhibition, “Junipers: The Princes of Bonsai.”

The fee is included with general admission.