The school mimeographed their first handbook and by supplying suitable properly prepared bonsai stock, the students were much more successful! One class formed the Aloha Bonsai Club. From our very early days, we demonstrated our commitment to teach by providing educational materials, ideal prepared bonsai stock and materials, and personal assistance when needed. Over 50 years later, these same commitments are available to the members of the non-profit Mid-Pacific Bonsai Foundation and Fuku-Bonsai customers!
1969-73 Co-founded the non-profit Hawaii Bonsai Association; developed their bonsai team-teaching curriculum and lesson plans as education committee chairman and course coordinator. Designed and slip-casted bonsai pots with original plaster molds. Participated in formulating the Hawaii State Burrowing Nematode Nursery Certification Program (in Honolulu) and upon approval, moved to the Big Island of Hawaii to form the first such nursery under that program. Developed a non-soil media with volcanic pumice with first products utilizing volcanic welded splatter cinder. Extensive test marketing demonstrated that True Indoor Bonsai (Fuku-Bonsai's houseplants trained in the bonsai manner) are very successful gift bonsai for anyone who can grow houseplants.
|1962-72 As newlyweds, David and Myrtle Fukumoto begin growing and training a Brassaia houseplant in their apartment to start pioneering True Indoor Bonsai™. We lived on Myrtle's salary as a clerk-steno for the US Army while David's construction painting and other income went into savings. Within a year they purchased a home in Kaneohe and the yard quickly filled with bonsai!|
|The hobby expanded to completely fill a suburban house lot. David was asked to substitute teach an evening adult education bonsai course at Aiea High School at a time that there was no published tropical bonsai information nor suitable plants in garden shops. Myrtle became a backyard nurserywoman, propagated seeds and cuttings, and maintained a bonsai collection of over 2,000 trees in training! We participated in developing the Hawaii Certified Export Nursery Program and began planning to be the first!|
|In 1973, we sold our Kaneohe home and with the $50,000 profit, purchased a 12-acre former sugar cane field, built a new home, and started building the nursery after working as a painter during the day and on week ends. A year later we began sales. Two years later nursery income allowed going full-time and we refinance with the State Farm Loan and expanded rapidly with operational profits and several annual FmHA loans including a modest 2-bedroom employee cottage and Myrtle's parents Rickey and Haruko Kiyabu became our first employees.|
|This 1974 copywrited photo of son Tad was taken when he was four years old with our first HS-1 small and HD-1 desk size Brassaia Lava Plantings. From the start, Fuku-Bonsai produced only premium branded products that were direct niche-marketed by mail order or sold by widely-scattered area-exclusive Fuku-Bonsai Authorized Retailers with delivery via U.S. Postal Air Priority Mail with a special packing system and with a satisfaction and safe arrival guarantee.|
|In 1973 and 1974, David's first two articles were published: "Bonsai in Hawaii" in Bonsai Clubs International's Bonsai Magazine and "Island Hopping" in the American Bonsai Society's Journal. The Island Hopping article told of bare rooting and fumigating the bonsai collection to move from Honolulu to the Big Island to meet inter-island plant quarantine requirements. The article was featured at the American Bonsai Society's booth at the joint Pasadena convention co-sponsored by the California Bonsai Society, American Bonsai Society, and Bonsai Clubs International. This was the first opportunity to meet Dorothy Young (who later became the editor of ABS Journal), John Naka, Ed Potter, and many of the early national bonsai pioneers. A sequel article "Successful Island Hopping" included the the photo of the dead trunk of one of the few trees that did not survive silhouetted against a sunset which was used as a cover of the Winter 1975 issue.|
|1975-79 As a research affiliate of the Harold Lyon Arboretum of the University of Hawaii at Manoa, David amassed over 200 ficus specie and varieties, ran trials, researched, and published a series of articles in the American Bonsai Society Journal. This is credited with Ficus becoming the most popular American Bonsai. But Ficus requires more light than available in most indoors and we shifted research to TRUE INDOOR BONSAI™. Jerry Meislik expanded Ficus research and is the author of FICUS, The Exotic Bonsai.|
|Haruko Kiyabu was our first "Plant Mama" in charge of the potting house. Certified "high-velocity pumice ejecta" was delivered in 30 cubic yard truckloads into a concrete pit, shoveled into our mass screening to separate into coarse bottom and body media. The body media was further screened and mixed with organic matter, fertilizer, etc. for our certified potting media. We produced enough income by selling 10% of production with large quantities going into the "Old Plant Bank" for bonsai training for future sales.|
|Participated in a Japan Bonsai Tour with the Hawaii Bonsai Association. Attended IBC 79 New York to give a presentation promoting IBC 80 Hawaii. Became the first Hawaii State certified nursery to ship to Canada and Europe. Designed a line of plastic bonsai pots and saucers manufactured by Ole Orchard Hill of Michigan and later became a designer for a line of larger fiberglass bonsai pots.|
|In preparation for IBC 80 Hawaii, Japan's grand master Saburo Kato and Hawaii's Haruo "Papa" Kaneshiro came to select Ficus benjamina for his "Peace Forest" demonstration. He wanted a tree that would flourish to continue to improve into the future. Over 40 trees were selected and pre-trained and root pruned to his specifications. Kato is a patron role model of a bonsai professional who is also a leader helping to advance the art and culture of bonsai and leads a movement for world peace through bonsai.|
|See "Bonsai no Kokoro" (The Spirit and Philosophy of Bonsai by Saburo Kato presented at IBC 80 Hawaii)||1980 Coordinated and moderated the Hawaii 3-Ring Demonstration at the landmark International Bonsai Convention co-sponsored by the Hawaii Bonsai Association and Bonsai Clubs International at the Sheraton-Waikiki Hotel in Honolulu.|
|FUKU-BONSAI IN 1985. Incorporation began in 1984 to become the catalyst to build an international bonsai center in the developing Kona-Kohala visitor destination area. Everything related to bonsai went into the corporation with professional appraisals of the 12-acres, improvements, bonsai, inventory, etc. withe the Fukumotos the sold initial stockholders. Over nine stock offerings, they were joined by over 200 mostly modest Big Island stockholders and raised over $2 million to fund the 17-acre Kona Fuku-Bonsai Center.|
|PEACE FOREST IN 1985 in the care of Haruo Kaneshiro (right) Ed Nishida and Ted Tsukiyama (left). The 40-tree forest was being trimmed by shearing and Papa struggled to keep it from growing larger and preventing wire marks. The tree was turned over to Fuku-Bonsai after IBC 90 Hawaii and was then over 6' tall! Based upon previous discussions with Kato, restyling began to create a tall forest adaptation of Kato's famous Ezo Spruce forests. (See 2001)|
FUKU-BONSAI EVOLVES INTO A CORPORATION
1985 Fuku-Bonsai became a corporation to become the catalyst to build and operate an international bonsai visitor attraction and over 200 stockholders supported the effort. 17 acres of the former Tanaka Quarry in upper Keauhou-Kona was purchased and in-house design and construction began, funded with the income from the Kurtistown nursery and a series of stock offerings. The center featured nine themed bonsai gardens and included extensive educational exhibits. Co-founded the non-profit Mid-Pacific Bonsai Foundation to educate and promote, to be the public guardian of the memorial bonsai of the Hawaii State Bonsai Repository and to be the liaison to the community.