NOTE: Much has changed since this was first installed on the website!  Volcano Highway 11 that goes through the town has been widened and we now have a traffic light and a gas station with good prices, and the start of a shopping center.  That gravel road with potholes that filled with water when it rained used to cause visitors to park on Olaa Road and walk in.  THAT ROAD IS NOW PAVED!  We'll keep this old page up so old-time visitors can recall how things were.

           We are also rebuilding the bonsai collection exhibit and making improvements as we recover from the Benlate disaster that caused over $30 million of losses.  BUT WE SURVIVED AND THANK YOU! 

VISITING FUKU-BONSAI

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                KURTISTOWN!   Our large sparsely-populated area was once homesteads where you could own property by clearing and working the land. It's a town of small business people with J. Hara Store, the post office, and BJ Service Station. Kurtistown is on Volcano Highway 11 about 10 miles from Hilo and 20 miles from Hawaii Volcanoes National Park. If you're coming from Hilo, you'll come through Keaau and begin noticing that it begins to feel cool.  After the 9-mile marker, look for an intersection sign for Olaa Road and your see a "BONSAI" sign right at the intersection of Volcano Highway and Olaa Road. If you're coming from Kona through Volcanoes National Park,  you'll past our small town's "business district" shown above.  Count nine houses and you'll see that first Fuku-Bonsai sign.

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            (Left photo)  The first of six signs is at the intersection of Volcano Highway and Olaa Road that will guide you to the Fuku-Bonsai Cultural Center & Hawaii State Bonsai Repository.  Olaa Road is a narrow one lane road with a posted 15 mph speed limit.   It twists and turns with hills and dips. Sign #2 is about 100 yards away and also says "Bonsai" vertically (but is smaller).  Sign #3 is similar and just after, you'll go down a hill, through a dip in the road, and be on on the flats.
            (Center photo) Here's sign #4.   Up to this point, the one lane road is paved. Turn right just after the sign into a gravel road. We're open Monday to Saturday from 8AM to 4PM. There's no admission fee and everyone is invited. 
            (Right photo) In the distance sign #5 is barely visible and you turn right again and continue up into the nursery. 

            NOTE:  The signs have been improved,  the Norfolk Pine windbreak is now gone, there's a small house on the corner, and the long driveway that was filled with deep potholes is now paved.  No need to park on Olaa Road and walk in during rainy seasons!

 

A PHOTO VISIT TO FUKU-BONSAI

              NOTE:  In 1994, the Kona Fuku-Bonsai Center was forced to close and we retreated back to the Kurtistown nursery that previously was not open to visitors.  We began rebuilding and opened a modest new Fuku-Bonsai Cultural Center & Hawaii State Bonsai Repository.  With the aid of small promotional displays throughout the Big Island at Fuku-Bonsai Promotional Partners, soon a small but steady stream of visitors found us in the middle of a former cane field!  This photo tour was added to the website about 1996.  

   Our modest Fuku-Bonsai Cultural Center is in the midst of a former sugar cane field and this is the driveway entrance. No one is allowed into the growing areas of the nursery which is to the right of the driveway.
     The entrance area features a large Dwarf Schefflera "Entry Tree" that is mounted on a 6' diameter concrete disc with turntable hardware. The potting house is to the left.  Fuku-Bonsai is a working bonsai nursery and visitors can chat with the staff and observe the various activities going on. The day starts with the entire staff packing so plants are ready for the scheduled FedEx pick-ups on Monday, Tuesday and Wednesday.
      Shipments go out to the continental US on Mondays, Tuesdays, and Wednesdays and arrive within 48 hours on Wednesdays, Thursdays, and Fridays. We prefer that the parcels go out to arrive in midweek as most damage occurs when parcels are enroute over the weekend.  On the left is the Center office and packing shed with the sales area in front of the FedEx truck.
      Inside the packing area.  Sheet iron surfaced packing tables allow very efficient packing of small individual cartons as well as larger group bulk orders or to our wholesale accounts.  On the back partition, the Micro-Lobster Museum and Exhibit includes educational panels and some of the research tanks including new prototypes.
       I enjoy showing visitors the latest theories and every so often we have visitors who have more academic knowledge than we do and I learn too!  Since turning over most of the bonsai specialty to Michael, I've been deeply into Micro-Lobster research and development.
              NOTE: Micro-Lobsters were researched in the event we could never again effectively grow highest quality bonsai due to residual Benlate contamination.  We could not grow our original Brassaia crop and forced to develop a totally new crop!  Fortunately we learned to grow Dwarf Schefflera as a superior replacement crop.  But it is much more difficult and required a major reinvention of the company and its business plan.

              Now in 2015,  Fuku-Bonsai's Dwarf Schefflera specialty is the ideal gift bonsai that is suitable for anyone, anywhere who can grow houseplants!  We have largely rebuilt much of the nursery and it's time for us to refocus.  We are a bonsai company and with a growing future,  it's time for us to discontinue Micro-Lobster activities.

 

FEDEX.jpg (64795 bytes)       FedEx has an exceptional record and they make it possible for us to have a great lifestyle in a beautiful rural setting.  Their infrastructure and capabilities are impressive and when requested, we can track any shipment.  Fuku-Bonsai qualifies and has an assigned "One Call Representative"  who can arrange special handling when necessary.  This makes it possible to ship to destinations where low temperature are above freezing with very high success rates.  We use heat packs when necessary and even ship to Alaska for most months of the year!
     The bonsai sales area holds several hundred bonsai so visitors have a nice selection of plants to choose from. Each week, the staff brings in plants to be washed and dip-treated for shipment and to refill the sales area.  We conduct our workshops in this area. The cost of the workshops packages are the same as for our online customers and there is no charge for the staff supervision or teaching time.  The workshop result is shipped to anywhere in the US. But more often than not, other  plants are selected and when four or more are sent to the same address, shipping is free!
     This is a part of the center collection that includes Japanese bonsai, Chinese penjing, Hawaiian outdoor tropical and our specialty True Indoor Bonsai. It includes the Lyon Arboreteum / Fuku-Bonsai Ficus Research Collection and the Memorial Bonsai of the Hawaii State Bonsai Repository co-sponsored by the non-profit Mid-Pacific Bonsai Foundation.  
    Our insurance company and certified nursery regulations prohibit visitors from entering the nursery area.  As a certified nursery, all plants are grown from seeds and cuttings in non-soil media on benches.  Each bench is 6' wide by 40' long and there are over 250 benches. The nursery has millions of plants and this scale is necessary to spread out the overhead costs and keep our plants affordable.  Because of Hawaii's natural climate, plants do not need winter protection and this makes us the most efficient nursery specializing in houseplant bonsai which can be grown indoors anywhere in the United States.
2008 UPDATE

         Puna is the fastest growing district in the State of Hawaii!  Volcano Highway 11 was widened, a traffic light has been installed, and the Kurtistown shopping/commercial district is expanding!

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2010 UPDATE

 

 

                The original Kurtistown nursery benches had been built in 1973, 1977, and 1983.  Each time the design was improved.  The first photo shows that some of the benches built 34 years ago in 1977 and some of them are still usable.  The metal has rotted and some tables have collapsed. The nursery has the equivalent of over 600 benches 6' wide and 10' long.  The current design features heavier wood framing, pre-finished aluminum roofing materials that will not rust or need painting, and waterproof cleats to prevent rotting where bench legs contact the wet ground. With these improvements, the new benches may last 50 years or more!   In 2010, Fuku-Bonsai had the highest rated USDA Pacific Region proposal and received a $90,000 Rural Business Enterprise Grant (RBEG) for "Rebuilding Fuku-Bonsai Nursery!"  We were sponsored by the non-profit Big Island Resource Conservation and Development Council.   More information is at www.fukubonsai.com/1a3a.html

JULY 2013 UPDATE
          The Fukumotos moved to Kurtistown in 1973 to start Fuku-Bonsai as Hawaii's first certified export nursery in the middle of a district that was still mostly sugar cane fields.  The plantation graded the gravel road every two years prior to harvesting and visitors were not allowed. But after the Kona center closed and we opened the Kurtistown Fuku-Bonsai Cultural Center, it was a bit embarrassing that an increasingly popular visitor attraction had a gravel road with deep potholes that prevented visitors during the rainy season. So the paved road is great!

            There have been steady improvements to our bonsai knowledge as well as at the Fuku-Bonsai Cultural Center as reported in the Journal of Tropical & True Indoor Bonsai.  Visitors enjoy seeing the specific plants that were the subject of articles.  With limited resources, we continued to make improvements in all areas.

2015 UPDATE

            The above photo taken in February 2015 shows about half of the Fuku-Bonsai Dwarf Schefflera Exhibit and Educational Collection.  The center will be continually improved and visitors are able to visit a working bonsai nursery,  select certified plants for shipping to all parts of the United States,  and to take bonsai workshops with Fuku-Bonsai staff supervision.

            Each year, more of our oldest customers are finding us and we're delighted with the huge increase in customer success and interest in training True Indoor Bonsai. Email us for more information and consider a workshop!  Many visitors write to tell us it was the highlight of their Hawaiian vacation!  There's a lot more information in the portal section:  "VISITING FUKU-BONSAI AND THE BIG ISLAND OF HAWAII"  at www.fukubonsai.com/MAIN.4.html   

             E KOMO MAI  .  .  .  come discover the serenity of nature, the beauty of bonsai, and the spirit of Hawaii! 

FUKU-BONSAI CULTURAL CENTER & HAWAII STATE BONSAI REPOSITORY
            PO Box 6000 (Olaa Road), Kurtistown, Hawaii 96760
            Phone (808) 982-9880, FAX (808) 982-9883;   Email:  sales@fukubonsai.com 
 
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