Bonsai books in the early age

Three bonsai trees

The books on bonsai and related arts (bonsai, bonseki, bonkei, saikei, penjing, pentsai, suiseki)

1900 – 1949

Language Prefix:
E ”   English
F”   French
J”   Japanese

Subject Code: penjing , viewing stones , bonkei , saikei-related , indoor, bonsai

J Bonsai Shitate Hiho; 1902.    Describes the contemporary state of the art: “There was heavy influence from Chinese culture in the early Meiji period which resulted in a type of bunjin bonsai and a strong demand for Chinese bonsai pots occurred, especially among the sophisticated gentlemen.  Some of the favorite types are namako [sea cucumber], kochi [glazed], shidei [purple clay], shadei [sand clay], and ohibi [large crackled glaze].”  This work also contains an article dated 1603 accompanied by a sketch of a pine rooted over a rock.  The tree is in a low, wide, drum-nail studded pot, tan/orange in color, sitting on a low bamboo stand. 1J Juraku-kai Zuroku (Catalog of Juraku-kai); published by Shoichi Kiso; 1903.  This two-volume work is a catalog and description of the two major private displays at Jurakukai.  It is generously illustrated with full-page, detailed line drawings of the exhibit.  The tokoname settings are shown where the various bonsai were exhbited along with the accompanying scrolls, companion plants, suiseki and ikebana arrangements in individual rooms in two high-class Japanese restaurants. 2

J Sanyu-en Bonsai-Dan (History of Bonsai in the Sanyu nursery); 1910.  Apparently the first book which treats the subject of wiring. 3

J Taiten Kinen, Bonsai Meihin Shu (Anniversary of Taiten, Collection of Excellent Bonsai); 1929.  Two volumes which contain numerous photographs of the outstanding specimens in Japan for that year.

Beard, [Emma] Patten Adventures in Dish Gardening; New York: A.T. DeLaMare Company, Inc.; 1930.  204 pp.  Illustrated by the author.  Photographs by H.E. Griffin and Curtis Owens.  Four color plates and sixty b&w half-tones.

J Bungo, Miyasawa   Bonsai; Tokyo: Gen-shin-sha; 1923; 1931 (same work?).

J DaiNihon Bonsai Kyokai Zenkoku Bonsai Chinretsu Taikai Kinen Chyo (A Souvenir Booklet of the First All Japan Bonsai Exhibition); Greater Japan Bonsai Association; 1941.

J Inoue, Masayoshi  Bonsai Teien Matsu Baiyo Oyobi Teireho (Methods of Training and Maintaining Garden Pines as Bonsai); Daigaku Kan; 1912.

J Ishii, Isayoshi   Saishin Bonsai No Shitate Kata (Newest Bonsai Techniques); Kinseido; 1938.

J Kaibara, Tooru   Jumoku Bonsai Ron (A Discussion on Bonsai); 1910.

J Kibe Yonekichi   Bonsai Baiyo Ho (Cultivation Methods for Bonsai); Sanginsuisekien; 1903.

Kiktavi, John  How to Grow and Cultivate Miniature Living Trees; Published and distributed by Living Ming Trees, National Nursery Supply, Inglewood, CA; July 1949.  47 pp.  Forty-two b&w photos and twenty-two figures or sets of line drawings.  Cover title is “how to grow living miniature Ming Trees at home“.

J Kobayashi, Norio  (Contemporary Bonsai and their Care); 1928.

J Kobayashi, Norio  Bonsai no Kenkyu (The Study of Bonsai); Tokyo: Hakubunkan; 1930.

Koehn, Alfred  Japanese Tray Landscapes; Peking: Lotus Court Publications; 1937.  First edition.  52 pp.  Illustrations.

J Maruyama, Shinji  Bonsai, Baiyoujitsuken (Bonsai, Experiments in Culture); Hakubukan; 1934.

F Maumené, Albert Les Arbes nains japonais, Leur formation au Japon, Leur utilisation et leur traitement eu Europe; Paris: Librairie Horticole; 1902.  60 pp.  Sixteen b&w photos.  The earliest known work in a European language entirely on the subject.  E-texte edition 2002.

J Murata, Kenji  Showa Bonsai Itsupinsyu (A Sampling of Showa Bonsai); Kojuen; 1937.

J Murata, Kojuen  Konishi To Watanabe Shozo Bonsai Tenkan Mokuroku (Konishi and Watanabe: A Program for Two Families’ Bonsai Exhibit); 1936.

J Nomura, Yasutaro Bonsai Shoku Butsu Saisyu Oyabi Baiyo Hou (Creating and Maintaining Plants for Bonsai); Daigaku Kan; 1906.

J Nozaki, Shinobu  Shumi No Jumoku Bonsai: Shitate Hihou (The Hobby of Bonsai Trees: Cultural Secrets); Sanshyo Do; 1938.

Nozaki, Shinobu Dwarf Trees (Bonsai); Tokyo: Sanseido Company, Ltd.; 1940.  199 pp.  Two color and 121 b&w photos.  First 74 pages are text. The first English language book on the subject.

J Shimizu, Kitsusue Bonsai Teien Take Sasa Baiyo Oyobi Teireho (How to Raise Garden Bamboo as Bonsai, Culture and Techniques); Daigakukan; 1913.

J Shuin, Kanai  Bonsai; Tokyo: Kosei-do Shoten; 1922.

J Sumida, Masao  Bonsaido (The Way of Bonsai); Hakubunkan; 1931.

J Tomimasu, Ryoichi and Keisaku Suzuki and Takamasa Tanaka   Jitsuyo Engei Zensyo: Sosai, Kaju, Kaben, Bonsai (A Complete Book on the Contemporary Garden Arts: Vegetables, Fruits, Flowers, and Bonsai); Jugyo No Nihon Sha; 1911.


Juraku-kai Zuroku, 1903 [2, Nonkey] Juraku-kai Zuroku, 1903 [2, Classic]
Les Arbes nains japonais, 1902 How to Grow and Cultivate Miniature Living Trees, 1949

NOTES1 “Notes on Antique Chinese Bonsai Pots” by Ikune Sawada, Bonsai, BCI, September/October 1988, Vol. XXVII, No. 5, pp. 25-26, which contains the quote; Bonsai Today, No. 24, pp. 10-11, color photo on pg. 10.

2 Nippon Bonsai Association, Classic Bonsai of Japan (Tokyo and New York: Kodansha International; 1989), pg. 154 has b&w spread of 4 pairs of facing pages; Ishiyama, Nonkey T. “Historical Notes on Japanese Bonsai,” Bonsai Journal, ABS, Vol. 5, No. 3, Fall 1971, pp. 43-44 has b&w [shown above] on former page captioned “A nineteenth-century [sic] arrangement of bonsai and ikebana from an old illustration.  Courtesy of N.T. Ishiyama.”  It is RJB’s belief that because of similarities with the illustrations in Classic, Nonkey’s is actually from that 1903 work also; Elias, Dr. Thomas S. “New Library Additions,” NBF Bulletin, Vol. XI, No. 2, Winter 2000, pg. 4.

3 Toshiro, Yonetami   “Wiring,” Bonsai Today, No. 1, May-June 1989, pg. 20.  Adapted by John Palmer.


One thought on “Bonsai books in the early age

  1. Mas Daniele, hai una letteratura completa, come si inginya condivisione di aumentare la conoscenza e la comprensione del Bonsai. Speriamo di poter essere più familiare

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