PREMIER ISSUE #1.  January 2013
Mid-Pacific Bonsai Foundation


Journal Editor
President,  Fuku-Bonsai Inc.
Journal Contributing Editor
Author, bonsai instructor




         Aloha and welcome to the first issue!  In the last 50 years, "bonsai" has dramatically evolved from being an exotic Japanese magical shaping of temperate climate outdoor trees. Bonsai has grown into an art, craft, and hobby that now reflects Japanese, Chinese, international, American, and Hawaiian trees, styling, and concepts.  Bonsai Clubs International and the American Bonsai Society have been the leaders in the United States and their magazines documented and reflected this evolution. Fuku-Bonsai has been and will continue to be a steady participant in these two fine organizations.

          With the publishing of the JOURNAL OF TROPICAL & TRUE INDOOR BONSAI™,  we encourage the growth of a new form of "Popular American Bonsai" for those not able to grow traditional temperate climate outdoor bonsai. Our goal is to greatly increase success so anyone, anywhere who can grow houseplants will be successful either growing year-around indoors, or outdoors whenever night temperatures exceed 50°F. 

          We will do this by providing applicable information and specific plants that we write about with an emphasis on workshop packages that will address beginner, intermediate, and advanced levels.  Teaching aids and quantity discounts will be available. We will be the only vertically integrated source of educational materials and workshop plants that can be shipped to all parts of the United States to individuals, bonsai instructors, or organizations. 


















        Fuku-Bonsai was an early Tropical Bonsai leader known for developing banyan bonsai with aerial roots and tropical tree styling. It also pioneered growing proven durable houseplants in the bonsai manner. Our trademarked "True Indoor Bonsai™" is the most successful gift bonsai for anyone, anywhere who can grow houseplants. Fuku-Bonsai is the highest quality source of True Indoor Bonsai prepared bonsai stock and semi-trained bonsai and True Indoor Bonsai information.

        We have been steadfast in our commitment even while fighting for survival after the loss of over $30 million due to defective Benlate sprayed in 1989.  During this difficult period, the 501(3)(c) Mid-Pacific Bonsai Foundation continued to protect the memorial bonsai in the Hawaii State Bonsai Repository, co-sponsored the Fuku-Bonsai Cultural Center, and assisted in educational activities at the center.

        Fuku-Bonsai became a corporation in 1985 and the Mid-Pacific Bonsai Foundation was formed a year later. Both organizations have been committed to promoting, preserving, and educating the art and cultures of bonsai and the building of friendships through bonsai.  The Foundation became the public guardian of memorial bonsai when Hawaiian bonsai masters passed away; as well as significant bonsai created by national and international bonsai masters in Hawaii. The collection includes trees trained by Saburo Kato, John Naka, Haruo Kaneshiro, Pius Notter, Shinji Ogasawara, Tom Yamamoto, Jackson Kansako, and a host of others.   

        It is now possible for someone to complete one or more  Introductory Workshop Packages (Workshop I); and within a few months, be ready to work on Workshop II trees that are already five years in training.  Soon after, an aggressive hobbyist can take on the challenge of Workshop III which feature trees that may already be over ten years in training. Once a person demonstrates an ability to grow our plants, the largest, oldest Custom  Collection becomes available. Some of these trees are in training for over thirty years!  This progressive sequence greatly compresses the learning curve and it is now very possible to participate in intermediate and advanced level bonsai that was totally impossible 50 years ago! 

       The Journal is an educational vehicle for those who want to go beyond simply owning and growing a houseplant bonsai and address intermediate and advanced challenges. 



         Bonsai has dramatically evolved from extremely difficult and secretive traditional Japanese temperate climate outdoor bonsai.  50 years ago, Hawaii was trying to grow both temperate climate and tropical trees in the Japanese bonsai manner and learned that most temperate climate trees just won't grow here. We learned the first major rule for bonsai success:  "Grow plants that will thrive for you in your environment or change your environment so the plants will thrive!"  Plants must thrive to be trained as bonsai!

          Bonsai grown in Hawaii are tropical plants and some temperate climate trees that will tolerate our tropical climate.  By happy coincidence,  tropical plants are easier to grow outdoors throughout the United State whenever night temperatures are above 50°F and brought indoors during cooler seasons. Plants require light, water, fertilizer and tender loving care that varies depending upon the situation.  It's necessary to "learn the language of plants."

          Tropical trees have very different shapes from temperate climate trees.  Whereas the typical pine bonsai will have a single apex line with tier branches and a triangular profile,  a tropical banyan bonsai would have multiple trunks, arching branches, a rounded crown, heavier buttressing rootage, and even aerial roots.  Tropical bonsai styling is more heavily influenced by Chinese penjing  concepts and are very different from traditional Japanese temperate climate bonsai.

          Fuku-Bonsai's True Indoor Bonsai™ is a major evolution that allows anyone, anywhere who can grow houseplants to be successful in bonsai!  Dwarf Schefflera (Schefflera arboricola) is the ideal proven durable houseplant that branches well and can be trained into high-quality bonsai.  It grows more vigorously and our training techniques create a lot of trunk and branch character within one inch of the soil line and a shallow compact root system within half inch below the soil line. Fuku-Bonsai provides exceptional starter stock and every tree has potential.  This addresses the second major rule for bonsai success:  "Start with plants with a lot of character to avoid the early difficult challenges to create character!"

          Fuku-Bonsai's plants have high potential and the remaining challenge is to learn to grow the trees vigorously so when trained, they will throw out strong new growth and improve their shapes.  It is now much easier to successfully grow bonsai and this Journal is intended to focus on tropical bonsai, but especially Fuku-Bonsai's True Indoor Bonsai.  Every plant needs specific information and bonsai books spread conflicting confusing information.  Very few principles apply to ALL bonsai.  If a bonsai book tries to teach pines, azaleas, and elms, the book will be create a lot of conflicting information as all three need to be trained and grown differently. 

         Fuku-Bonsai's True Indoor Bonsai dwarf schefflera is exceptionally successful because our information sheets specifically apply to the plants that we supply.  This is significant as it is generally not possible to obtain specific plants and to obtain direct information from the grower-supplier!













         This Journal is the joint effort of the Mid-Pacific Bonsai Foundation and Fuku-Bonsai and a part of the overall long-term project "MAKING THE BIG ISLAND AN INTERNATIONAL BONSAI MECCA!"  That's an awesome primary objective but it makes sense!  We have only been able to make progress and survive because of Hawaii's past bonsai role, our climate, and our community.  We have been very fortunate to be the beneficiary of Hawaii's visitor industry and our Big Island community who supported us through our difficult years.  The overwhelming majority of our repeat Fuku-Bonsai customers were introduced to us during a Hawaiian vacation and because they love the "Spirit of Hawaii and Aloha!" 

         We intend to honor this tradition and dedicated the Fuku-Bonsai Cultural Center and this Journal to Hawaii's Greatest World War II Generation. This special generation fought to fight for their country when they were branded "enemy aliens."  Their distinguished record on the battlefields of Europe removed all questions of loyalty and they changed Hawaii into a unique multicultural state based upon mutual respect, civility, and being an inclusive ohana. They joined with their former enemies from Japan in promoting bonsai as a bridge to international friendship and peace and created the explosive growth of international bonsai that we enjoy today. 

         For 50 years, the Fukumotos learned, taught, built and rebuilt the components to support this new form of bonsai.  In turning over the educational functions to the Mid-Pacific Bonsai Foundation, we seek to build a private - public partnership that will effectively use the resources created to benefit future generations of bonsai hobbyists as well as the Hawaii visitor industry and the Big Island community.   

        The culture of bonsai includes learning and practicing the basic criteria.  At a time when bonsai is attracting urban individuals with no ties to farming or plants, our task is to  introduce or reintroduce the basics.  Plants do not grow in dark caves.  They need light to provide the energy for growth.  They also need water and moisture in proper amounts and in this first issue, we touch on these basics.

         We appreciate the support of bonsai old-timers including Jerry Meislik who has agreed to be a "Journal Contributing Editor"  to provide periodic articles and commentary, to help provide balance and to point out areas that need more information to improve the success rates for those starting out.  For this first issue, I asked Jerry to help explain the importance of light for indoor bonsai. As you can see from his report,  if you create exceptional growing conditions, you can get superior grown even on more difficult high-light requiring trees!

          We thank our customers and request your feedback and to share your results in the form of photos and articles.  By writing and teaching others, you'll also learn more too! We hope to one day have instructors throughout the United States with effective sharing online sharing of information to assist and inspire everyone to grow happy, healthy, beautiful houseplant bonsai!

        Training and styling bonsai is challenging and the most difficult to teach. But if our website is to become the finest bonsai resource, we need to try to explain how bonsai are created, the fine points, and offer to assist.  So we began a new portal section that will focus on styling bonsai and include introductory information and the first article that tries to explain the concept of SUMO!  We invite you to email us and request that you help publicize and promote the website and Journal as we try to build a True Indoor Bonsai community and resource. 

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


Journal of Tropical & True Indoor Bonsai Editorial

         Bonsai requires a lot of patience if you have more interest and insufficient plants to satisfy your bonsai interest. Fuku-Bonsai makes it possible to be very successful by providing plants, information, and assistance that can greatly compress the learning curve and in a relatively short time, you can be working on high-potential plants that have been in training for many years.  But for these individuals,  its necessary to develop discipline!  We invite you to join us!
         By Jerry Meislik of Whitefish, Montana.   Jerry is amongst the most experienced bonsai grower utilizing artificial light and especially likes to grow high-light requiring ficus indoors on a year-around basis.  He is retired and fully immersed in all aspects of bonsai,  the author of FICUS; THE EXOTIC BONSAI and a frequent writer for national bonsai magazines. Jerry is a modest Fuku-Bonsai stockholder and my "go-to guy" and most dependable correspondent. Visit his impressive website at
          A new portal section that will be devoted to styling and designing bonsai. 
SUMO!  Fuku-Bonsai's original and most important styling!
          This article explains how Sumo is the key to our Hawaiian Lava Plantings, our Premium Potted Bonsai, and our Workshop Packages.

         The Introductory Workshop Package is the long sought "Educational Bonsai Holy Grail!"  With it you can learn without an instructor and be successful.  With it, you can easily teach others! The concepts and components are unique, well researched, and effective!  Three were completed to demonstrate the range of results possible!            
         Here's a young man with smarts, energy and confidence that burst upon the Fuku-Bonsai scene in mid-November 2012 and his first report covering his first six weeks!
          Here's another young man who will be making strong "FAST TRACK BONSAI" progress. Within a week he completed five workshops and it's time to go back and improve each!
          It's not often that we get shipping damage, but this was a different situation that also ended up with an interesting happy ending!
         There is extensive correspondence and every so often, there's a photo or story that just cries out to be shared!    "The Mailbag" will be the vehicle to share and all customers and members are encouraged to send in interesting photos and stories.  Here's the most recent one from Charles Clemens of West Branch, Michigan.    

***  Go to Mid-Pacific Bonsai Foundation website home page

***  Go to Fuku-Bonsai website home page

              ©  Mid-Pacific Bonsai Foundation and Fuku-Bonsai, 2013