Bonsai is an art form that uses trees to represent nature in miniature; a companion art form, called “Viewing Stones” (“suiseki” in Japan or “Scholar Stones” in China) does the same, in rock. Viewing Stones are naturally formed stones valued for their shape, color, beauty, pattern, and/or for what they can be seen to represent. Some collectors choose certain stones because of their shape or because they see in them natural scenes, such as scenic vistas or animals, or naturalistic imagery within the face of the stone.

After being collected, Viewing Stones are cleaned and typically displayed on custom-carved, wooden stands called daiza, and some stones are polished. The practice of collecting and viewing stones originated in China about 2,000 years ago; it was introduced to Japan in the sixth century CE, and now is practiced worldwide.

Stone Images X features 33 Viewing Stones. Most were collected in Washington, although several found in Japan and Canada by members of the Puget Sound Bonsai Association’s Viewing Stone Study Group. Information about each stone–including viewing stone classification, place of origin, name of the collector, and (in many cases) the poetic name given to the stone by its collector–will be displayed beside each stone in the exhibit. The entire exhibit will be displayed in two, glass-fronted cabinets lining the interior of the Pavilion at Pacific Bonsai Museum. 

Stone Images X is the tenth exhibit organized by the Puget Sound Bonsai Association’s Viewing Stone Study Group. Since the exhibit series’ inception in 2010, 300 Viewing Stones collected from countries around the Pacific Rim have been displayed at the Pacific Bonsai Museum.  This includes stones from the Pacific Northwest, California, New Mexico, Arizona, Wyoming, and Alaska.

Presented by the Viewing Stones Study Group of the Puget Sound Bonsai Association at Pacific Bonsai Museum. Exhibit runs October 15, 2019 through January 5, 2020.




50, stunning bonsai from our permanent collection are currently on view outdoors and in our tropical conservatory.


World War Bonsai

In 2020, to mark the 75th anniversary of the end of World War II, Pacific Bonsai Museum will tell the story of how war forever changed bonsai culture in the United States and Japan in its special exhibit World War Bonsai. From the incarceration of Japanese Americans on the West Coast, to the challenges of bonsai cultivation amidst rationing and bombing raids in Japan, to the American GI’s who developed an appreciation for Japanese culture while stationed overseas, there is a direct connection between the events of World War II and the practice of bonsai that we enjoy today.

Call for photographs, objects, & information related to bonsai culture, 1935–1950

Examples include:

  • Photographs depicting bonsai, bonsai nurseries, or bonsai exhibits during this time frame, both in Japan and the United States. 
  • Names, oral/written histories, and photos of bonsai from Japanese American teachers/practitioners who experienced incarceration. Photos of bonsai within the camps. Objects, such as bonsai tools or pots, made or used in the camps.
  • Names, oral/written histories and photos of Japanese bonsai teachers/practitioners who lived in Japan during the war and/or who served in the Japanese military.
  • Names, oral/written histories and photos of bonsai teachers/practitioners who served in the U.S military during the War. Specifically, those who were stationed in Japan during the occupation. 

People of interest include:

Kiyozu Murata, Keibun Tanaka, Yuji Yoshimura, Ken Sugimoto, Mas Imazumi, Jizaburo Furuzawa, Taki Nagasawa, Kelly Hiromo Nishitani, James Masao Nakahara, Ted Tsukyama, Tom Yamato, Fumiko Frank Nagata, Sam Doi, Morihei Furuya, Sobuku Nishihira, Homei Iseyama, and Toshio Saburomaru.

If you have information or objects to share, or are interested in volunteering to help locate, collect, and conduct research pertaining to these subjects for use in this exhibit, please contact Curator Aarin Packard at aarin@pacificbonsaimuseum.org or +1.253.353.7345 at your earliest opportunity. Exhibit materials will be finalized by December 2019.

Past Exhibits

Principles of Design

MAY 11 – OCT 15, 2019

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Stone Images IX

OCT 16 – DEC 16, 2018

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Living Art of Bonsai: Elements of Design

APR 21 – SEPT 30, 2018

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APR 8 – OCT 8, 2017

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Stone Images VIII

FEB 18 – MAR 26, 2017

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APR 30 – OCT 2, 2016

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stone images vii

MAR 26 – APR 24, 2016

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MAY 8 – SEP 30, 2015

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Stone Images Vi

APR 3 – MAY 3, 2015

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