John Y. Naka, the father of American bonsai, makes last minute adjustments to his "Goshin" forest shortly before the dedication of the Bonsai Pavilion named in his honor. (Washington DC., October 1990)

Some Thoughts About “Lofty” Concepts

Most bonsai people don't spend a lot of time worrying about lofty concepts. We are usually more focused on things like soil composition, fertilizer ingredients and proper watering technique. That is probably as it should be, because the longer we are involved with the care and attention of our little trees, the more we come to realize that the trees themselves have most of the answers to life's more important questions. It is up to us to be very quiet and to listen to what the trees are telling us.

John Naka, the great American bonsai teacher, passed away in 2004. Those of us who were fortunate enough to know him, mourned his loss greatly. But as the years have passed, the pain of his loss has faded and been replaced with the warm memory of a friend and teacher, who gave each one of us much more than simple bonsai mechanics. He gave us his love and passion for the art. Today, there is a whole new generation of teachers and students actively opening new inroads into the art of bonsai. Most of them were never fortunate enough to have met John or to have the opportunity to sit at his side and learn his wisdom.

Even so...today's artists instinctively know what John was all about. That's because their trees are teaching them the same way that John's trees taught him so many years ago. Bonsai is about beauty,... about the quest to create perfection,... about our attempts to touch the face of God. As we care for our trees, they, in turn, teach us about the cycle of life and about our part in it. With each new springtime and with every new leaf... our bonsai remind us that we are not alone and that to grow and understand bonsai is to grow in our understanding of the universe itself.

It doesn't matter who you are or where you live. It doesn't matter how you dress or what your native tongue. When you learn bonsai, you begin to learn a new universal language.... a language of beauty... of peace... of patience and of friendship. If you think you are the type of person who could subscribe to such a "lofty" concepts, ...we would love to have you join us. The North American Bonsai Federation and it's parent organization, The World Bonsai Friendship Federation, are composed of people who believe the path to worldwide friendship and understanding may be achieved (at least in part) by seeking out ways in which we are more similar than different. We believe an involvement in the art of bonsai creates a common ground for all of us and serves as one very excellent pathway to achieveing world peace and friendship. Join us! There is no membership fee, no renewal dates, no textbooks to buy, no classes to attend and no boring meetings to sit through. There is just you... us... the trees we all love and a common belief that we are all in this together.

NABF Membership Application

YES… I believe that an involvement in the art of bonsai is one way in which we can all work towards achieving world peace and friendship. I would like to submit my application to join the North American Bonsai Federation.

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