Earlier this month, the National Bonsai Foundation (NBF) board, donors and special guests – including Atsuyuki Oike, chief of mission of the Embassy of Japan, Japanese bonsai master Tohru Suzuki, members of Ikebana International, and other dignitaries and bonsai enthusiasts from around the country – celebrated the National Bonsai & Penjing Museum’s 40th anniversary. The event also honored Curator Jack Sustic, who is retiring at the end of this month.
“If it were not for you – the strong supporters of this Museum – we wouldn’t be standing here today,” NBF President Felix Laughlin said in thanking the guests. In celebrating the 40th anniversary, Laughlin said, “Two words come to mind: ‘gratitude’ and ‘promise.’ We at NBF have a deep sense of gratitude for all those who have generously supported NBF and the Museum over the years, and I can assure you that NBF will continue to represent a promise to do everything possible to maintain this Museum as the best bonsai and penjing museum in the world.”
Laughlin noted that many people have contributed to the success of the Museum – from John Creech, Yoji Yoshimura, John Naka and Saburo Kato to the many donors, volunteers, board members, curators and other staff, leaders of the bonsai community and of the U.S. National Arboretum over four decades.
In his remarks, Atsuyuki Oike of the Embassy of Japan said: “America is known as a country that celebrates everything big – Big Macs, Big Gulps, Big This, Big That. Even things in nature are big here. There’s the Grand Canyon, the Great Lakes, the giant sequoia trees.”
“Bonsai trees,” he continued, “of course, are just the opposite. They show nature in miniature. And, this is conjecture on my part, but I don’t think bonsai lovers see the trees as small at all. They see a largeness and an expansiveness in them.”
He concluded: “I might add that while the bonsai tree may be in miniature, the National Arboretum’s bonsai collection is grand, it is great, and I believe it is a big addition to the culture of this city and the country. On behalf of the Japanese Embassy, I would like to express my genuine thanks to the Arboretum and to Mr. Sustic for their deep, sustaining roots in bonsai. The Museum has my best wishes for another 40 years of caring for these living treasures, and Mr. Sustic has my best wishes for a wonderful and fulfilling retirement.”