The National expo is life changing

That is no exaggeration. It is absolutely life changing. The level that these trees are at is just mind boggling. To see it in person. To see what can be achieved. It’s just such a motivating force that has forever raised the bar of what I consider to be quality bonsai.

I’ll admit that at first it was overwhelming. I thought back to my collection and wanted to burn it with the hottest of fires. However, I started interacting with the artists. Everyone is so generous, humble, accepting, and welcoming. You soon realize that all of these trees are made by regular ppl. So the question of how can I ever do this turned into why am I not already doing this. I then recognized that with the help of Mirai and the Mirai community I’m on the right path.

Not to name drop, but here’s a list of ppl I had the fortune to not only meet, but converse with on a peer level. Other Mirai members, the entire Mirai crew, Dave De Groot, assistant curator of the National Bonsai Museum in DC, Rob Pressler, the winner of the classical tree award, student of Dan Robinson, Aarin Packard of the PBM, Young Cho, and so many other incredible ppl. Keep in mind that I’m a shy person, but it was very easy to just walk to someone and introduce myself.

Sorry for rambling, but this was just an experience of a lifetime. I want nothing more than for others to give themselves the opportunity to have the same experience.


While at the event the question of what is American bonsai kept popping into my head. Some of the three point displays didn’t make any sense. At times it felt more like mimicry than it did artistry. I’m having a difficult time trying to reconcile that. We either should branch out to do our own thing or work to understand the intension of that which we seek to adopt as our own. I personally lean towards the former, but the palatable answer is the latter.

Dan Robinson’s JBP was the most impactful to me. From a distance it looks like a JBP as you would expect to see a JBP. Upon closer inspection it is unlike anything I’ve ever seen in a bonsai aside from something like a contorted quince. Branches crossing at times. Branches moving back in towards the trunk. So many “rules” were not adhered to and the result is stunning.

I wish I remembered the student’s name, but their goal when designing a tree is that every branch itself could be its own tree. Cut off a branch, stick it in a pot, and it should be able to stand on its own as a believable representation of a tree. Achieved…in a JBP.


I’m on my flight home from my first visit to the national show as well! (with a new tree in my lap… I just couldn’t resist).

I feel the same way - huge evolution in my understanding of the craft and art form. Watched some demos, said hi to Master Ryan and the crew, listened in on a critique by Bjorn, and spontaneously joined a guided analysis of the winning trees by Boon (my favorite experience).

I learned so much by being able to get up close to the trees and analyze techniques that aren’t visible (often intentionally) in photos.

Here’s the newest member of my family:


Very jealous of you two, maybe in 2 years. :crossed_fingers: So glad you got to have the experience, and thankful for the photos that made it out here and to IG.

Boon is a hoot! Nice tree btw.


Dude, you have to go. If a significant other is a concern then incorporate a trip to Niagara as well. That’s what I did to convince my wife that were going to go into two years.


That’s a beautiful bonsai to top off what sounds like an awesome experience. The pictures of these artist’s work is overwhelming enough. I can’t imagine seeing them in person!


It’s crazy. The biggest take away is the overall health of the trees. So dense with like no leaf burn. Moss was fairly lush, but hard to tell what was naturally occurring vs what was show mossed. At times the show mossing was a bit obvious though.

Another standout was the kusamono and shitakusa. So lush and healthy. It definitely makes me want to elevate my game.

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Oh man I am so totally into kusamono and shikusa now. Young Choe made it look so easy!!! (Famous last words)


It was truly an inspiring event. It was great to put faces with so many of the voices that have been on Mirai’s podcast. This was my first time attending the national show and I’m so excited for the next one!


Some ppl were taller than I thought they’d be. Sergio Cuan is a lot bigger than I thought he’d be as well lol. Man, what a great show. I can’t wait.

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