2011 Nisei Week / Nanpu Kai Bonsai Exhibition, Aug 20-21, 10 am – 5pm

NanpuKai Bonsai 800 years old California Juniper by Harry Hirao

600-year-old California Juniper by Harry Hirao. (Courtesy of Nanpu Kai)

JACCC (Japanese American Cultural and Community Center)

244 South San Pedro Street, Los Angeles, CA 90012

August 20-21, 2011, 10 am – 5 pm

The origin of the Nanpu Kai can be traced back to 60 years ago. In 1950, John Naka, along with Frank Nagata, Morihei Furuya, Joseph Yamashiro and Mrs. Ai Okumura created the Southern California Bonsai Club with the goal of introducing elements of Japanese arts, in particular, bonsai and suiseki to western society.

Recognizing the growing interest in bonsai, it was imperative that new owners learned how to maintain and perhaps, if interested, learn how to create a bonsai from nursery stock. The club quickly attracted members and in 1962, incorporated and was renamed, California Bonsai Society.

By 1959, as the interest in bonsai rapidly grew, Naka recognized the need to train bonsai instructors and founded the Seinan (Southwest) Bonsai Club (renamed Nanpu Kai in 1964). Over the years, Naka has handpicked, what he considered to be, those individuals with greatest ability to teach bonsai and suiseki.

Although there were many presidents of Nanpu Kai since the beginning, Naka was always the guiding spirit and inspiration, the sensei. With his passing in 2004, a committee of elders assumed the role as leaders, Frank Goya, Harry Hirao, Shig Miya, Ben Oki and Richard Ota and they appointed Mel Ikeda as president.

Nanpu Kai has presented annual displays during Nisei Week over the years, beginning in 1963 at a Buddhist temple in Little Tokyo. The annual display has been presented in the JACCC’s George J. Doizaki Gallery since its opening. The unique manner of display, on white pedestals, was the innovative concept of Miles Kudo, the curator at that time.

This year there will be more than 40 displays of bonsai, some as old as 600 years and some as small as 8”. There will be suiseki, viewing stones, on display, that are found in California. The event will be held in the two showrooms on August 20 and 21 on the first floor of the JACCC. Members will be available to answer questions of viewers.