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Workshop Instructors:

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Bjorn Bjorholm


Get ready to be inspired by Golden State Bonsai Federation's Biennial Bonsai Rendezvous 2023, with our headliner, world-respected bonsai expert, Bjorn Bjorholm!

Bjorn brings his extensive knowledge of techniques, aesthetics, and history to Bonsai Rendezvous this year. Raised amongst plants in his family’s nursey, his passion for trees is truly lifelong. Bjorn honed his skills under some of the most respected bonsai masters in the world. At the age of 22, Bjorn committed himself to excellence during his apprenticeship under Master Keiichi Fujikawa at Kouka-en bonsai nursery in Osaka.  He apprenticed at Kouka-en Nursery in Osaka for six years before becoming certified by the Nippon Bonsai Association.  Bjorn undertook the challenge of teaching himself Japanese. In 2018, Bjorholm founded Eisei-en (Japanese: 永青園) Bonsai Garden in Mount Juliet, Tennessee.  Bjorn's passion to teach and his technical skills make him one of the most inspiring and sought-after instructors and speakers in our bonsai community.

Jason Chan


In 2021, Jason published Bonsai Pocket Guide: A Beginner’s Journey, a book

dedicated to helping beginners and new enthusiasts start their journey into the

art of bonsai. Jason has been an active member of the Bonsai community since

2014, when he was elected to the board of the Golden State Bonsai Federation.

Jason regularly holds demonstrations at bonsai clubs, garden organizations,

botanical centers, and museums throughout the country. Jason also shares

knowledge through his blog articles and videos. Additionally, he contributes to

various bonsai publications including those of Bonsai Club International and GSBF. ​

Jason will be helping beginning and intermediate attendees style 7 year-old raw nursery stock San Jose Junipers into beginning bonsai.

Juan Cruz


Juan started his bonsai journey in Sacramento, CA and has been practicing the art of Bonsai for aver 30 years. He spent 2 years at the Masai En bonsai nursery in Bonsai-Cho Japan learning the difference between being a bonsai artist and a bonsai practitioner. He is now a member of Midori Bonsai Club in San Jose. CA where a community of senior members help lead junior members through their own bonsai journey.

Those attending Juan’s workshop will leave having created their own Japanese Maple grouping on a slab.

Mel Ikeda

Mel Ikeda has been practicing the art of bonsai for over 50 years. Mel has studied bonsai with his father Masayuki Ikeda, Harry Hirao, John Naka and Kenji Miyata.  He has traveled around the US creating and demonstrating bonsai. 


Mel has served as President of Nanpu Kai Bonsai Club, Executive Vice President of California Bonsai Society, and Trustee of Golden State Bonsai Federation.  He remains active in the bonsai community and raises funds for the GSBF through his Tomodachi Group. He currently works with Mr. Hirokazu Kosaka, Master Artist in Residence at the Japanese American Cultural and Community Center in Los Angeles, as he continues to share bonsai with others. 

He enjoys teaching those new in their bonsai journey.  During his workshop, he will teach attendees how to create bonsai in one of the common bonsai styles:  cascade, semi-cascade, informal upright, upright or slant style.  

Steve Iwaki


Steve is a second-generation bonsai artist. His father, Ted Iwaki, was one of the founding members of the California Bonsai Society in the 1950’s. Steve’s own personal bonsai journey began over 30 years ago when he discovered a bonsai class at the local recreation center. It was taught by Japanese gardeners, much like the group his father socialized with when he was growing up. Today, Steve is the president Sei Boku Bonsai Kai in San Mateo, and regularly displays, collects, teaches and demonstrates through out California.

Steve will be helping intermediate attendees style 20 year old multi-trunk collected Boxwoods into an Oak tree style bonsai. The small leaves and fine-fissured bark on Boxwoods make them ideal bonsai material.

Randall Lee


Randall Lee has studied bonsai for over 30 years.  He met his first teacher and mentor, Dennis Makishima while taking horticultural classes at Merritt College.  He presently studies with Peter Tea.  Randall most recently gave a workshop at the 2023 Shohin Seminar.  He has a deep passion for working with Hinoki cypress.  Participants in the workshop will style the “Wells special” cultivar which he feels is one of the best for Hinoki bonsai.



Fred Miyahara


Fred fell in love with bonsai in January 1989 and began studying with Mas Ishii in1990. His goal at first was to learn grafting, but he went on to study with Mas until 1997 focusing on Japanese black pines. After that time, Fred studied with a variety of professionals, among them Ernie Kuo, Dennis Makishima, Kathy

Shaner, Bill Castellon and Boon Manakitivipart, always with an emphasis on

Japanese black pines. In 2002 Fred began studying with Kenji Miyata focusing

almost entirely on Japanese black pines, and continued honing those skills with Kenji until 2020.  Today, Fred is a well-respected demonstrator traveling

throughout the U.S. and Hawaii. During Fred’s workshop, he will teach participants how to style their 14-16” black pines. 

David Nguy


David is well known for his work with California Junipers and Black Pines. His 35+ years of experience includes studying with Sensei’s Harry Hirao, Ben Oki, Ernie Kuo, as well as Masahiko Kimura in Japan. David is well known for his skills and advanced techniques, which can be found in his signature trees and has been referred to by the Golden State Bonsai Federation, as “Mr California Juniper”.  Currently a featured Bonsai Clubs International instructor, David travels all over the world judging shows, conducting demonstrations and workshops at various clubs and international bonsai exhibitions.

David will be conducting two styling workshops for intermediate and advanced attendees.  His Friday workshop will be a Bring Your Own Tree. Fifteen year old raw Kishu Juniper nursery stock will be used in his Saturday workshop. 



Vince Owyoung 

Vince began his bonsai journey in 1961 when he and his wife, Kathy, purchased a black pine in a one pound Hills Brothers metal coffee can.  Today, that 62-year-old black pine continues to thrive.  As a trained mechanical and civil engineer, Vince has spent decades designing and developing unique solutions to various bonsai challenges such as creating a stacking soil sifter, “third hand” repotting assistant, adapting hydraulic carts with large wheels, using “blue glue” to create unique and beautiful rock plantings. Vince has been a very active member of GSBF and California Shohin Conventions where he typically participates in Mel’s Tomodachi group and offers workshops.  He’s always willing to teach and assist those new in bonsai. 

In his workshop, participants will learn how to create a lovely Pygmy Cypress forest on a slab. In a few years, these trees will stand thick and lush on their stone base.

Jennifer Price


Jennifer discovered Bonsai after retiring from the stage as a professional ballerina.  She is struck by the line and form within Bonsai and the ability to use the tree’s natural flow of movement.  She has worked with numerous artists including Jim Doyle, Mauro Stemberger, Will Baddeley and currently studies with Ryan Neil. Her ongoing apprenticeship continues to this day with mentor Walter Pall.  She has taught workshops and has given demonstrations throughout the United States and the world. While in Germany she was a part of Generation Bonsai and went on to represent America at two international bonsai conventions both in Shanghai, China. 
Jennifer feels that creating a Bonsai forms a connection to a living entity, which you cannot truly control, but can listen to and learn from. When she is not traveling she often can be found taking a walk in the woods with her beloved Border Collie mix Samantha. Students in her Saturday workshop will each work with an approximately 18 year-old Blue Atlas Cedar that is very healthy. These pre-bonsai trees have great movement, low branches, and 1.5” trunks.

Jason Saito


Jason Saito is an excellent instructor and will work with attendees to create a Saikei or

“planted landscape”. Jason has spent the past 10 years concentrating on this descendant of the Bonsai art form initially learning from southern California’s great legacy bonsai artist, Frank Goya. Saikei is the art of creating tray landscapes that combine miniature living trees with soil, rocks, water, and related vegetation (like ground cover) in a single tray or similar container.

During his workshop, Jason will teach each participant the art and technique for creating their own Saikei. 


Lucy Sakaishi-Judd


A retired high school teacher and track & field coach, she learned from "the best", Mary Sakaishi (her mom). She shared her large collection of bonsai varieties with her late husband Gary. Lucy has used her longtime experience and love for bonsai and kusamono to teach both at various garden clubs and convention workshops. She had the honor of being invited to display one of her kusamono plantings at the 2021 National Exhibition in New York. Most recently, she taught a kusamono workshop at the 2023 Shohin Seminar. During the Bonsai Rendezvous, on both Friday and Saturday mornings, Lucy will guide participants in creating 5 complete kusamono plantings. 

Lindsay Shiba


A second-generation Bonsai Sensei, Lindsay started his bonsai journey in 1970

at his father’s Nursery Mt. Fuji Garden Center in Upland, California. Lindsay did

his formal training with Khan Komai, Harry Hirao and later with John Naka. Lindsay is a past President of California Bonsai Society, an active demonstrator, teacher, and a very respected Bonsai nurseryman in Southern California. He is currently the “Show Chair” for Baikoen Bonsai Kenkyukai and California Bonsai Society.

Lindsay will be instructing beginners and intermediate attendees on how to style their

Shohin size, 5-year-old, nursery grown olives.



Bob Shimon


Bob Shimon, bonsai professional and owner of Mendocino Coast Bonsai, started his interest in bonsai in the 1960s with the classic book, “Sunset Bonsai: An Illustrated Guide to an Ancient Art.” From there, he advanced his studies with prominent teachers including Mas Imazumi, Kathy Shaner, Mr. Mitsuya, Mr. Tokita and Mr. Tanaka, Marco Invernizzi, Peter Tea, and Ryan Neil. Bob has been active in the Redwood Empire Bonsai Society (Santa Rosa) since 1985.

During Bob’s pygmy cypress workshop, he will guide the attendees in proper pruning, styling and long term care of these special and unique trees.

Cary Sullivan


Cary started taking painting lessons before she was able to read and majored in fine arts in collage, before switching to nursing.
She has been a mixed media and fiber artist, working with oils, painting on silk, wire wrapping jewelry and fiber arts. She has been learning Japanese art forms for the last 20 plus years. She has taught her art and crafts at many different venues. She has taught suminagashi - floating ink on paper- marble painting, and her Japanese washi boxes. She also does suiseki and katazome Japanese paste resist dying and stencils and shibori technique on fabric. She has taught these classes at GSBF conventions, Mingei museum, and the buddhist temple in vista. Her workshop on Washi Bako
(mulberry paper box) uses Washi Japanese mulberry paper. In each kit students will be able to make 2 Washi Bako boxes.

John “JT” Thompson 


John Thompson (JT) is a bonsai enthusiast, lecturer, demonstrator and artist who lives in San Jose, CA.  Keen observations of nature and study with John Naka, Kathy Shaner, Harunobu Tokita in Japan, Peter Tea, Boon Manakativipart, Ryan Neil have influenced his eye and passion for Bonsai.  He has shown trees in such shows as the Artisan Cup, the US National Exhibition and the Pacific Bonsai Expo. He has served on the board of directors for both ABS and GSBF.  

He writes a monthly care column for several Bay Area clubs and has authored articles for ABS, GSBF and other publications.   In his workshops and demonstrations, he tries to utilize the unique characteristics or flaws in each tree that will set it apart from others of the same species.  He is, perhaps, best known for his driving passion for Oaks, Junipers, Boxwoods, Cypress, Pines, Deciduous species, and other collected trees.   JT’s workshop will instruct attendees in deciduous and broadleaf evergreen styling and care techniques using Ollie Dwarf Olive bonsai.  

Steve Valentine


Steve became interested in bonsai after seeing trees on display at the Del Mar Fair in

the San Diego area in 1965. By 1980 he was a certified Arborist and was specializing in

building and maintaining Japanese Gardens throughout the San Diego area. He has

studied bonsai with Mas Takahashi, Harry Hirao, Kathy Shaner and John Naka. He

served on the board of the Golden State Bonsai Federation for 20+ years and was the

Convention Chair in 2019. He regularly teaches, demonstrates and displays trees

throughout California.

Friday morning Steve will be helping intermediate and advanced attendees, style 15+ year-old, 24” tall Black Pines into a Bunjin style Bonsai.
Friday afternoon, Steve will be leading a workshop where attendees will create a Hashira-Kakushi (a wooden post cover, with original Japanese Art)



Matthew Walker 


Matthew has been practicing bonsai for 18 years, the past 15 years of which he had  studied intensively under the guidance of Boon Manakitivipart.  Bonchi Bonsai is his boutique bonsai nursery offering field grown and collected trees. He offers annealed copper wire, teaches classes, workshops and club demonstrations with emphasis on giving respect to the art of Bonsai.

During his workshop, Matthew will guide the participants in the initial styling their collected Coastal Live Oak trees.



Note: Adam Toth and Julian Tsai are each leading a seminar and holding a workshop. See their Bio's under Seminar Leaders.

Seminar Leaders:

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Jonas Dupuich

Jonas began his bonsai journey over twenty years ago and has studied with Boon Manakitivipar for 20 years.  During that time, he became a founding member of Bay Island Bonsai, started Bonsai Tonight and has an active blog where he posts

weekly articles, interviews and how-to videos. Last year Jonas launched the Pacific Bonsai Expo and prides himself on bonsai display and styling techniques.

Jonas will conduct two educational seminars.  The first seminar will focus on educating attendees in "How to Shop for Pre-bonsai Material."  His second educational seminar will be held in the Collections Exhibit and is limited to 30 preregistered participants due to limited space.  He will educate others in
"How to Judge a Tree Exhibit."



Laurent Darrieux

Visiting French bonsai artist, Laurent Darriux's artistic philosophy stands in stark contrast with traditional forms of bonsai and aims to create trees and forms from the deepest imagination.  He will introduce attendees to his unique perspective in a GSBF Seminar on Saturday afternoon. Laurent is from  Capbreton, Aquitaine, France


John Kim

John’s interest in bonsai began in 2010 when he started researching ‘little trees in
pots’ on the Internet. By 2011 he was spending time visiting nurseries and purchasing a variety of junipers and deciduous trees to practice on using internet articles and YouTube videos as a guide. In 2017 John joined Baikoen, seeking hands-on techniques and tree care training. It was while he was listening to a bonsai podcast with Ryan Neil and the owner of Joshua Roth®, Ken Carlson, that he heard Joshua Roth might be for sale to the right buyer. Over the next eighteen months, John visited Ken many times. Finally this past January, John and his wife, Michelle, became the proud owners of Joshua Roth Bonsai Tool Company. 
John’s seminar will review the tool manufacturing process, purpose of various tools, tool maintenance and sharpening. "Bonsai Tools: What You Need to Know."


Mike Pistello

Mike fell in love with Bonsai at the age of 13. At 14 he had joined Fuji Bonsai Club in Berkeley and begun studying with his Sensei Jimmy Inadomi. 

He regularly conducts workshops and demonstrations while writing for publications including GSBF, BCI and Bonsai Focus.

Mike’s workshop will teach: "All Things Raffia:  When, Why and How to Apply."



Peter Tea

Peter has actively studied and practiced the art of bonsai for over 20 years. He apprenticed with Mr. Junichiro Tanaka at Aichien Bonsai Garden.  He was released from a 5-year apprenticeship after only 2 years and with Mr. Tanaka’s blessing returned to the U.S. to continue his own business. Peter is well respected throughout the U.S. as an instructor and artist.

Peter’s educational seminar will focus on "Bonsai Structural Development:  How Bonsai are Built from the Ground Up." 



Adam Toth

Adam fell in love with bonsai over 10 years ago and now, after apprenticing for over 3 years with Taiga Urushibata at the Taisho-en bonsai garden in Shizuoka, Adam has returned to the U.S. and established himself as a well-respected young professional. 

In the educational seminar led by Adam, he will instruct everyone on "Tree Styling and Development Techniques." 

On Friday morning, Adam will be teaching an Advanced Mame workshop and class.  In this workshop, participants will learn how to start, grow, design and build show quality mame. He spent 3 years examining, reading and working on small trees during his time in Japan. His professional goal is to bring good mame and shohin info and trees to America. 
In this workshop, attendees will be working on Youpon holly and Zumi crabapple. 

Julian Tsai

Julian began his journey in bonsai when he was 17, as a serious hobbyist in the SoCal scene. When he was 21, he pursued an apprenticeship at Fujikawa Kouka-en studying under Keiichi Fujikawa for 2 years (2018-2020).
Upon returning to the US, Julian furthered his skillset by learning from professionals Peter Tea and John Wang. During this time, Julian also worked as a semi-professional. In 2022, he launched his career as a full-time bonsai professional, operating his business “Just Bonsai.” Today he has established himself as an articulate young professional working throughout the US.
On Saturday, 1:30 PM - 4:30 PM, Julian will be helping beginner and above workshop attendees develop Procumbens Junipers into Bunjin style Bonsai.
Earlier that day, Julian is going to discuss "Bonsai Art vs Craft:  Finding a Balance in Contemporary American Bonsai" during his informative seminar.  

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