BJORN BJORHOLM ::: He was the youngest master and judge on American bonsai. Nine times seize Kokufu-ten Award, five times received Taikan-ten Award and once captured Sakufu-ten Award. He masters (MBA) from the University of Memphis, a doctoral (PhD) candidate –in business and economics– at Osaka University in Japan.
Maybe Bjorn did not have a lot of bonsai. But many bonsai that he signed and styled, especially those in Kouka-en Nursery owned by Keiichi Fujikawa, successfully won many awards. Fujikawan-san is indeed his Oyakata, six years studying bonsai in Kouka-en, until then appointed as director Fujikawa International School of Bonsai.
“I am an instructor there for international students,” said Bjorn Bjorholm on BursaBonsai.com. He will be very busy next year (2014), plans to give workshops, lectures, and demos in the U.S., Japan, China, Mexico, Belgium, and Germany.
Here’s my interview with him …… just click http://bursabonsai.com/bjorn-bjorholm-styled/ to see pictures of bonsai are styled by Bjorn who won several awards.
You are so young, have a high-big posture, such as Mauro Stemberger in Italy … Why did you choose to be a bonsai master, not the American football or Rugby player?
Hahahaha …. Good question! I’m two meters tall, so I usually get asked why I don’t play basketball. My response is typically that I have bad hand-eye coordination, but that’s just an easy excuse.
How old are you now? Your educational background have anything to do with art or agriculture?
As of now (2013) I’m 27. My university level education focused exclusively on Japanese language and business. I received my MBA from the University of Memphis and am now working on a PhD in business and economics at Osaka University in Japan. Regarding art or horticulture, my education in these areas has been exclusively undertaken at Fujikawa Kouka-en.
Since when did you get involved in bonsai? What caused it?
I was first introduced to bonsai at the age of 12 when, like so many others, I saw the Karate Kid movies for the first time. I then asked for a small bonsai for my 13th birthday. Immediately afterwards, bonsai became an obsession for me and I haven’t looked back.
Keiichi Fujikawa-san is your Oyakata. How many years did you apprentice at him in Kouka-en nursery?
I have been an apprentice at Kouka-en nursery under Mr. Fujikawa since 2008. I am currently in my 5th year of study, and I will continue to work with Fujikawa-san well into the future, beyond graduating as an apprentice.
Now you still as a director and taking care Fujikawa International School of Bonsai?
Yes, I am still part of the Fujikawa International School of Bonsai and an instructor there for international students. We host participants from around the world and create programs of study based on each individual student’s needs. Depending on the time year students attend the school, our curriculum changes slightly based on seasonal work requirements. Currently, we are booked through the end of 2014 and applications for 2015 are already coming in. It has been a great experience thus far, and we’re looking forward to meeting new folks from around the world in the coming years.
Am I wrong if I say you are the Rising Star of American bonsai?
I don’t know if I would label myself that, but I do feel that I am part of a greater group of young bonsai professionals taking the initiative to pursue bonsai on a deeper level and having the desire to raise global consciousness about bonsai art. It’s been an incredible experience thus far to be a part of this new movement, especially in American bonsai, but also in the larger international push for increasing knowledge and understanding of the art.
What my guess is correct if I say you are the youngest judge bonsai in America today?
This might be true, or it could be that I just have the youngest looking baby face of any judge in the US right now …. hahahaha. There are a handful of professionals near my age in the US now, so it’s a close draw I think.
This year you gave a workshop and became a judge bonsai anywhere?
Between 2013-2014, I will have traveled to (or will be traveling to) give workshops, lectures, and demos in the US, Japan, China, Mexico, Belgium, and Germany. In each of those countries, I work with individuals on their private collections, as well as with larger bonsai organizations, including societies and clubs and major groups such as WBFF and ASPAC.
What do you think about the trend of bonsai in America today?
I think this is perhaps the most exciting time in American bonsai history. There is a new movement in the US and a major push for quality improvement. Right now in America, enthusiasts are really gravitating towards native collected material and realizing the potential of US plant species for bonsai. There have always been great bonsai professionals, clubs, and organizations in the US, but currently there seems to be a spiking interest to truly push beyond the proverbial glass ceiling that has kept bonsai stagnant for so long. I see bonsai becoming much more mainstream and popular in the US in the coming years, which is very exciting.
Besides bonsai, what your business or job? Living in the city right now?
Bonsai is my livelihood. I spend a vast majority of my time at Fujikawa Kouka-en nursery in Osaka (I live about 10 minutes by bike from the garden). Two days a week I am at Osaka University working on my research, but all of my other time in spent at the nursery and/or traveling around the globe to teach bonsai.
Can you tell us about the your note or opinion during a visit to China some time ago?
Back in September 2013, I was asked by the NABF to be a representative for the US bonsai world at the WBFF and ASPAC event in Jintan, China. It was an honor to have been considered for the part, and I truly enjoyed the experience. I was blown away by the quality and depth of the penjing on display and of the material we presenters were given for our demonstrations. China is somewhat of a second home for me, as my wife is Chinese and we regularly visit family there. As is the case each time we visit China, the hosts for the event were great and the overall atmosphere could not have been better. It was an experience I am proud to have been a part of and will not soon forget.
::: iwan hd wirawan