Entry Tree & Fuku-Bonsai Cultural Center exhibit before the August 24, 2018 damage.


          Category 4 hurricane Lane produced one of the history’s largest 52” of rain that over-filled the Kurtistown watershed and sent a 3’ wall of water through the buildings, the exhibit and sales areas of the low back area of the Fuku-Bonsai Cultural Center.  The flood lasted for several hours, crashed through the buildings, knocked down, and washed away a large number of the priceless bonsai.  Although the historically, irreplaceable old bonsai will diminish our world-class exhibit collection; fortunately, the salable bonsai nursery inventory on high ground was largely spared. We will recover in a few months and move towards expansion.


(Photos on Saturday, August 25, 2018)

    1.  Early morning showed the 3’ deep wall of water was over 100’ wide.  It came from the left of the photo, through the open Potting House and washed out work tables, equipment, and supplies with such force that it lifted the asphalt from the paved road. In this upper section, the water crossed the road and slammed through the construction shed, the construction equipment and supplies area, and though the downstairs storage and restroom area.



     2.  Throughout the night, from the carport on the upper level, we could see the flood of water flowing through the downstairs construction shed with the force of the water peeling off the wall that was along the left side and slamming it against the downstairs entry door. Tables, equipment, and materials piled up.  The water flowed through the debris and floating cabinets were floating and banging away throughout the night in about 4’ of water. Historical records of the company are lost.



      3.  Our two largest and oldest Dwarf Schefflera bonsai and “Peace Forest,” trained by the late Japanese grand master Saburo Kato at IBC 80 Hawaii, were in a protected area and escaped undamaged. But, other medium and large bonsai were toppled with some damaged and others completely washed away. The flood knocked down and carried away the roofed display background fence that had 4x4 posts every 6’.  Display tables simply floated away and the broken pieces formed multiple-ton debris piles several feet high that likely included treasured bonsai.


      4. The wall of water coming from the left side of the office/visitor center building shoved all work tables, supplies, and equipment and piled them against the right-side wall.  With a 3’ flood water-line, everything was totally soaked, including a large amount of cardboard shipping cartons. It was hard to believe that the heavy, sturdy work tables were tossed around by the flood water. A heavy layer of mud covered everything. Somehow the word got out about our damage and 19 friends and relatives labored throughout the day to start the clean-up.


5.  The wall of water flowed around the office/visitor center and totally washed away all of the “Bonsai Sales” shadehouse,  the sales benches and informational exhibits, and all of the bonsai that were for sale, including all of the Custom Collection that are individually photoed and priced on the www.fukubonsai.com website. But, protected by the visitor center building, five benches containing our most valuable research and educational plants collapsed but somehow not a single plant was lost!  This area will be used for an interim sales area until a totally new Fuku-Bonsai Cultural Center is built on currently unused five acres on high ground.


6.  Some consider the large Dwarf Azalea multiple karst pinnacle landscape titled “Creating a Bonsai World” and dedicated to Hawaii’s Haruo “Papa” Kaneshiro to be our most impressive bonsai (on the left of the photo). In also being in that protected area, it was undamaged.  Water forced the entrance door to open and a trail of paper marked the water flow.  Before hurricane Lane, you’d be looking at the center of the roofed background fence and bonsai exhibit.  The portion of the exhibit beyond the background fence was also filled with display benches and bonsai that were largely washed away.


7.  Our second major 360°complex landscape is titled: “The World of Bonsai Aloha” to honor Hawaii’s Ted T. Tsukiyama was created in 2013, and was a major feature article in Bonsai Clubs International magazine.  Although toppled and sustained some damage, it will be restored and improved to become an important American innovative showpiece.  The exhibit includes several spectacular Hawaiian lava rock specimens exhibited as “natural sculpture.”  In the future, some may be utilized to create other unique complex landscapes. The center probably has the most impressive rock planted bonsai and complex landscapes in the United States.


8.  Looking back towards the office/visitor center, this area once was filled with benches and bonsai.  The black netting is weed-mat. The flood water stripped off the gravel and exposed and snapped waterlines.  Most of the water flowed in this direction and the swift current sent heavy cabinets, benches, and blocks of hollow tile tumbling into a drainage gully, then several hundred feet into the adjoining property where it formed large multi-ton debris plies that likely encase our missing bonsai. 


9.   One of the small debris piles where display benches, wood cabinets from the office/visitor center mingle with equipment and even bonsai!  Note that a large 31” long, shallow oval tray has somehow survived without being broken.  This was just one of a small number of exceptions as many priceless Tokoname pots by well-known master potters were smashed.  We will one day create an exhibit that of broken pottery shards that show the quality of the older master bonsai potters who sent their best work to Hawaii in the 1930’s to 1970’s before bonsai became popular in the continental U.S.


10.  There were four Christmas Berry trees associated with the late John Naka of California who worked on three of them in Hilo in 1985 and at IBC 90 Hawaii.  Three of the four trees were badly damaged but were recovered and potted.  Three special pots were made for them by Japanese master potter Akiji Kataoka of Yamaaki-Tokoname and the rectangle Expo 70 commemorative design in front left survived.  In the background is the center’s large Dwarf Schefflera Entry Tree on a 6’ diameter revolving concrete disk with amazing aerial roots.


11.  On the second volunteer “Search and Rescue Saturday,” the emphasis was to locate and recover as many bonsai that had washed “downstream.”  Many were located in the midst of multi-ton debris piles and it’s likely we will never recover all.  But, we recovered a number and have more than enough for creating an impressive bonsai and educational exhibit.  As this is being written three weeks after hurricane Lane, some of the bonsai are throwing out new growth and we remain optimistic.     


            CURRENT STATUS SITUATION.  Since the August 24 damage we continue to clean up.  Phones, printers, and computers are being replaced and we will be updating the website and the GoFundMe fundraising. An interim sales display has been set up and we ship mail orders and to our Authorized Retailers. It will take a long time to dry out and try to preserve important papers. Visitor counts are greatly reduced and we plan promotions. In the coming weeks, we will build a larger temporary sales area outside with a new bonsai and educational exhibit.  This will suffice until a totally new Fuku-Bonsai Cultural Center is planned, funds raised and constructed on 5 acres on higher ground.  

     We continue sales and shipping of our Hawaiian Lava Plantings and Premium Potted Bonsai. But there is no current shipping of either of our Introductory Workshop Package (IWP or PIWP) and no Custom Collection until we can move into refinement and the workshop units can be produced as certified again.
                  The flash-flood swept away the entire sales greenhouse including benches and the bonsai plant inventory ready for sale. It tore through the educational and bonsai exhibit collection and we lost over 50 world-class bonsai.  We lost records, office equipment and all computer capabilities and are only now modifying the website!

                  Fortunately the nursery on high-ground was not affected and we continue to take orders and ship.  Inventory is limited and a few items are sold out.  All Custom Collection on the website were swept away but the photos are being left on the website to give a sampling of our product quality and pricing.  If you're in the market for Custom Collection, please contact me as we'll start grooming trees from the Old Plant Bank to be available in the near future.

                 None of our losses were covered as we did not have flood insurance. I humbly and gratefully thank our friends, family, associates and others who made GoFundMe and direct donations and these made it possible for us to survive.  Recovery has begun!  MAHALO! 
                As this is being written in February 2019,  with the help of volunteers, much of the debris has been cleared and a new bonsai educational and collection exhibit is being assembled. Production has restarted and we are rebuilding computer capabilities to modify our website. We will soon publish a monthly email FBnews with the assistance of Constant Contact who will maintain the emailing list. We have no desire to spam, and if you want to receive the FBnews email notification, you must sign-up.
                It is not prudent to build on a site subject to future flood damage.  We have begun planning a third Fuku-Bonsai Cultural Center on an unused 5-acre high-ground area and have begun a $2 million fund-raising campaign. It is unfortunate that in our 30-year battle for survival, that we lost our strongest Hawaii nisei generation.  This extraordinary "Greatest World War II Generation" went to war to prove their loyalty, went to college on the GI Bill of Rights, and returned to rebuild Hawaii with opportunity for all.  They included doctors, lawyers and even governors and after establishing their careers, they returned to their cultural roots including bonsai. They befriended former war enemies, built "International Bonsai," and produced a movement that "bonsai be a bridge to international friendship and peace."  The Fuku-Bonsai Cultural Center honors this international greatest generation and is the "keeper of the spirit of bonsai as a bridge to friendship and peace."

               Please contact me if you have any questions and can participate as we refinance and rebuild.  In spite of the challenges, I consider myself very fortunate as I've had the honor and privilege to live a bonsai lifestyle and to develop TRUE INDOOR BONSAI as a unique form of tropical bonsai that have become the most successful gift bonsai for anyone, anywhere who can grow houseplants.  I am confident that the sale and profitability of HAWAIIANITE will exceed our bonsai potential and this will make it possible for Fuku-Bonsai to be profitable, to create a major national bonsai export business to support future True Indoor Bonsai generations, and create an exceptional Fluku-Bonsai Cultural Center to benefit bonsai, our visitor and agricultural industries, and to make the Big Island of Hawaii an International Bonsai Mecca!  YOU'RE INVITED TO JOIN US!

                With warmest regards and aloha,  ~~~David  (February 7, 2018)

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PO Box 6000 (17-856 Olaa Road), Kurtistown, Hawaii 96760
Phone (808) 982-9880  Email:  sales@fukubonsai.com  URL:  www.fukubonsai.com