On January 23, 1981 fifteen individuals met at Fuku-Bonsai in Kurtistown to form the Big Island Bonsai Association (BIBA) as a non-profit group of individuals dedicated to the promotion , advancement, and fellowship of bonsai. It began a three year project: "Revitalization of Bonsai on the Big Island" that included forming new clubs, "bonsai day" promotional events in various areas, the first All-Big Island Bonsai Show at Wailoa Center in Hilo, and a 10-session bonsai course held over 10 weeks in Hilo, Kamuela, and Kona.
The entire project was co-sponsored by the University of Hawaii at Hilo College of Continuing Education and Community Service, University of Hawaii at Manoa Cooperative Extension Service, State of Hawaii - Wailoa Center, County of Hawaii Department of Parks and Recreation, and various business sponsors and individuals. The project was an outstanding success and in 1984, BIBA was honored with the Hawaii State First Lady VIP (Volunteers in Paradise) Award. The first year members:
|Toichi Arai||Bob & Merle Dendinger|
|David Fukumoto||Barry Gitelson|
|Milton Hakoda||Hiroshi Ikeda|
|Warren Ikeda||Tsukasa Inoue|
|Isami Ishihara||Ruth Iwata|
|Yutaka Kimura||Elaine Larkins|
|Mary Matayoshi||Bert Morikawa|
|Jon Morishita||Hiroo Sakai|
On July 6, 2001 on the occasion of the 20th All-Big Island Bonsai Show at Wailoa Center, certificates of appreciation were presented to those members that were still active and four of the original group were asked to create a formal bonsai niche exhibit.
Yoshi Ota provided outstanding leadership as BIBA's first 1981 president and participated
in all activities. He is the owner of Ota Nursery in Hilo with a major bonsai
His exhibit featured an outstanding collected Christmas Berry and an attractive pink and white Bougainvillea in full flower.
Hiroshi Ikeda served as BIBA's second 1982 president and became a co-founder, president,
and president emeritus of the non-profit Mid-Pacific Bonsai Foundation.
His exhibit included a Japanese Golden Cypress group planting and a miniature saikei landscape.
David Fukumoto was the secretary - treasurer and course coordinator in the initial year
and BIBA's third president in 1984.
His exhibit had a Hawaiian - Chinese penjing theme and included the first public exhibit of "Snake Dance" on a turn-table and a penjing landscape. It also introduced "Fuku-Daruma & Friends."
Isami Ishihara at 90 years old is the senior active original member. As a leader of
the Waimea Bonyu Kai, he greatly influenced the concept that individuality and friendships
were the key to enjoying bonsai.
His exhibit included a Japanese Black Pine, Golden Chabo Cypress, Dwarf Serrisa, and a rice plant accent. In cooler Kamuela, Isami can grow many temperate climate trees.
- BIBA was founded as an umbrella organization made up of individuals for only island-wide projects that no one bonsai club could handle. It would support and not compete with clubs. Only a single annual meeting was to be necessary with the officers naming committees and having full responsibility and authority.
- Membership would be inclusive and open to anyone upon payment of dues. Each person would bear his or her expenses and no one would be paid for teaching. Members would share and teach what they knew and no member would accept the title: "sensei."
- There would not be any competitions. While anyone asked should give their ideas and suggestions, only the owner should train his or her plants. There would not be any one "correct" way to do or teach bonsai. And,
- Bonsai should first be a hobby to create fellowship and enjoyment, then an art to create a personal form of artistic pot plant, and lastly a craft where various traditional bonsai techniques and practices are shared.
Each and every charter member did a great job. Over the years both the Hawaii Bonsai Association (Honolulu) and BIBA have changed and today we see many of the weaknesses of 1968 (Oahu) and 1981 (Big Island). Clubs die and new groups form but the total of all club members have not grown. Twenty years is a generation and the current generation faces a major challenge to again revitalize Hawaiian bonsai!
Michael Imaino, president of the Mid-Pacific Bonsai Foundation with the restyled Haruo
"Papa" Kaneshiro Ironwood. This tree was first exhibited at the All-Big
Island Bonsai Show in 1998 where there was input regarding the major restyling planned.
At the 1999 show, Michael was the featured lecture-demonstrator. The tree has responded well and the showing at the 2001 show was to share our progress.
The All-Big Island Show is sponsored as an annual activity by the Big Island Bonsai Association and held during the July 4th weekend at Wailoa Center in Hilo. If you plan to visit the Big Island, there's extensive information. Go to Visiting the Big Island (Index)
*** Go to Fuku-Bonsai home page July 2001