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!
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.
(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.
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
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
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 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
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.
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!
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
- 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.
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
E KOMO MAI . . . come
discover the serenity of nature, the beauty of bonsai, and the
spirit of Hawaii!
- FUKU-BONSAI CULTURAL CENTER & HAWAII STATE
PO Box 6000 (Olaa Road), Kurtistown, Hawaii 96760
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