The Japanese Collection began with the gift of 53 bonsai from Japan on the occasion of the American Bicentennial in 1976. The trees, which were from private collections, were selected by the Nippon Bonsai Association with financial assistance given by the Japan Foundation.
In early 1975 the trees arrived in the United States and spent a year in quarantine at Glenn Dale, Maryland. On July 19, 1976 the collection was dedicated in a ceremony attended by many dignitaries from both countries. Secretary of State, Henry Kissinger, was the featured speaker and accepted the gift on behalf of the United States.
The complete story on this gift of trees can be found in the NBF publication: The Bonsai Saga: How The Bicentennial Collection Came to America” by former U.S. National Arboretum Director, Dr. John Creech. This book was published as part of the 25th Anniversary celebration of the Museum.
The collection, now numbering 63 trees, is on display from April through October in the Japanese Pavilion that was designed by Masao Kinoshita of Sasaki Associates. In the winter months the trees can be viewed in the Dr. Yee-sun Wu Chinese Pavilion.