The Secret Techniques of Bonsai

A Guide to Starting, Raising, and Shaping Bonsai

  • Masakuni Kawasumi II and Masakuni Kawasumi III
  • Translated by Kay Yokota
The Secret Techniques of Bonsai

Size: 267×197 mm, 610 g
Binding: Hardcover
Pages: 112
approx. 130 photos, 40 in color, index, appendix of bonsai tools, 16 color pages
ISBN10: 1-56836-543-8
ISBN13: 978-1-56836-543-5
Release date: April 1, 2006

List price: $29.00

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The Japanese art of bonsai is practiced worldwide, but while basic techniques have been more or less effectively taught, many of the more intriguing ones, as well as recently invented ones, have not. The Secret Techniques of Bonsai remedies this oversight with the thoughtful instruction of second and third generation experts.

Secret Teachings is by the author of the groundbreaking Bonsai with American Trees, one of the first books to unveil the secrets of the trade. This time, Masakuni Kawasumi II teams up with his son, Masakuni III, to offer not only the basics for creating perfect bonsai but secret techniques he has developed over years of careful work and observation. Masakuni III, the first qualified tree doctor for bonsai in Japan, adds his unique insights. Between them they offer over eighty years of experience.

The techniques are simple and intuitive, yet have been developed only after decades of practice and perfection. Detailed information is provided to start, nurture, and shape bonsai. A number of secret techniques are introduced for beginners and experienced enthusiasts alike. The father-and-son team also delves into bonsai tool usage, another area of their expertise, giving the reader a clear sense of how to use specialized tools—or how to better use the garden and workshop tools they have at home. All these make this an invaluable book for beginners and experienced enthusiasts alike.

  • Growing bonsai from seedlings or cuttings
  • Secret techniques and new shortcuts to better bonsai
  • Techniques for shaping, pruning, training, grafting, and repotting
  • Step-by-step photos
  • Expert advice from Japan's first bonsai tree doctor
  • Detailed advice for using numerous bonsai tools to perfect bonsai work


“Incorporating advice from his son, a tree doctor, the author teaches how to produce splendid specimens.”
The Washington Post

“The Kawasumis, famous for their bonsai tool design, offer detailed advice for using numerous bonsai tools, step-by-step instruction for growing bonsai from seedlings of cuttings, as well as techniques for pruning, shaping, grafting, training and repotting trees.”
Country Accents

About the Authors

MASAKUNI KAWASUMI II was born in 1923, son to Masakuni I, who pioneered the design of specialized bonsai tools. Training from a young age under his father, Masakuni II worked in the family business for decades, designing his own tools (often in partnership with the late bonsai expert, Kyuzo Murata) and cultivating bonsai on a professional level. He took over the family business in 1950. Masakuni popularized bonsai around the world through his books Introductory Bonsai and Bonsai with American Trees, and soon became a fixture in international bonsai circles. For his work in tool-making, he was awarded a Yellow Ribbon Medal by the Japanese government in 1993. In 1996, he established the Masakuni Museum of Cutting tools and Industrial Tools, in Kawaguchi, a suburb of Tokyo. Today the Masakuni brand is established worldwide.

Born in 1950, MASAKUNI KAWASUMI III grew up in his father’s world of bonsai and tool-making and by his early teens had chosen to work in the same field. In his early forties, he designed and produced, with his father, a rice-harvesting sickle for the current emperor of Japan. In 1998, he won the Grand Prize for his tool-making from the Kawaguchi City Industrial Engineers and Technicians Association. In the same year, he became the country’s first tree doctor to specialize in bonsai, officially recognized by the Ministry of Agriculture, Forestry, and Fisheries. When his father passed away in 2002, Masakuni Took over the family business, which he runs today, while also continuing his research in the cultivation and care of bonsai.

Tools designed by the Masakuni family can be found at

More information on the Murata family’s Kyukaen bonsai nursery is listed on their website at