Saburo Kato, Bonsai Master for the Ages 5/16/17


This very large forest was on display at last month's World Bonsai Convention in Japan. It was originally created by Saburo Kato, who was one of the original old masters of Japanese bonsai. One of the things Mr Kato was known for Ezo spruce forests, so we'll assume that this planting is an Ezo as well. The photo was borrowed from Mark Fields, one of our lucky friends who made the trip to Japan.

It has been a while since we featured the bonsai of Saburo Kato, one of the most accomplished and most revered of the old Japanese bonsai masters

I only saw Saburo Kato once. It was in 2005 at the WBC (World Bonsai Convention) in Washington DC. I was busy selling books and magazines when he walked by. He was very old and thin, with an air of dignity. I was so taken by surprise that I blurted out “Kato san!”  He stopped for a moment, smiled and moved on. That was it, nothing more. Yet I can still see that moment and my embarrassment at just blurting out his name… incorrectly no less (san is the basic term of respect you might accord almost anyone). What would have been appropriate is Kato sama (an honorific used to address someone of much higher rank than oneself) or Kato sensei (teacher). Next time the greatest bonsai master of his generation (who happens to be almost twice my age) walks by, I’ll get it right.

NEW 3 Day Sale

30% to 40% off Roshi Bonsai Tools

TM-Roshi Banner

30% off 1-2 Tools, 40% off 3 or more

don’t blink

this special ends Thursday at 11:59pm EDT



Same forest, different perspective. Both this photo and the one above include people, which helps when it comes to realizing just how immense this planting is. The photo was sent to us by Felix Laughlin, who is, in addition to being another lucky friend, the President of the U.S. National Bonsai Foundation.



Close up. Realistically sized ground cover is an important piece in most great forest bonsai. This photo was also taken by Felix Laughlin.



The Remotest Hill, Mr Kato's most famous Ezo spruce forest from the cover of his internationally renowned book, Forest, Rock Planting & Ezo Spruce Bonsai. Here's Mr Kato's caption: "Ezo spruce (Picea glehnii). Sixty years ago I often traveled with my father to Ezo spruce in the large virgin forests on Kunashir Island off the cooast of Hokkaido. I selected the finest material to create this bonsai entitled The Remotest Hill."



This exquisite mixed forest is also from Forest, Rock Planting & Ezo Spruce Bonsai



This photo of another Ezo spruce forest is from an untranslated Japanese book on Mr. Kato’s bonsai that his son Hatsuji sent us in appreciation for a gift we sent Mr. Kato’s family when he passed away in 2008



Saburo Kato's unrivaled masterful bonsai book
List price 34.95, now on special for only 24.00

Koyo Tool Sale ends tomorrow night

20% off Koyo Japanese Bonsai Tools

a small sampling of our approximately 50 Koyo tools

additional 10% off orders 150.00 or more
and FREE Shipping on Continental U.S. orders 75.00 or more
but only if you choose free shipping when you check out