Toshio (Norio) Kobayashi

I’m always learning something new.

Last week I visited the Omiya Bonsai Art Museum and enjoyed a special exhibit on Bonsai Chronicles curated by Dr. Fumio Taguchi. There were large images and even accompanied with English translations. I was surprised that Norio Kobayashi’s first name was mentioned as “Toshio.” For over 60 years I have known this bonsai pioneer as “Norio.” He even wrote one of the first books in English with the name Norio in 1951. Mr. Kobayashi was instrumental with the founding of the Kokufu Bonsai Club which sponsored the first Kokufu Bonsai Exhibition in 1934. In the 1960s the Kokufu Bonsai Club reorganized to become the Nippon Bonsai Association, current sponsor of the Kokufu Bonsai Exhibitions. He is not related to Kunio Kobayashi.

1927 Bonsai Exhibition

Mr. Kobayashi first published and edited the monthly magazine “Bonsai” beginning in 1931. This was the third bonsai magazine published in Japan and became the most influential magazine for over half a century. He published and edited 518 consecutive issues, with the final issue in October 1967.

The last issue of Bonsai Magazine, No. 518 was published i n October 1967

While at the museum, one of the curators Dr. Fumio Taguchi approached and gave me a few copies of the English commemorative album from the special exhibition on Yuji Yoshimura where I presented a program on Yuji Yoshimura in November 2019. While chatting with Dr. Taguchi, I asked about Mr. Kobayashi’s first name, which I thought was Norio. He said that I’m wrong. The correct translation of his first name is Toshio! For decades we have been using his incorrect first name!

Mr. Kobayashi with the 518 issues of Bonsai Magazines

On the same topic, Yuji Yoshimura’s younger brother’s name was Kanekazu, and his family knew him as such. But, about 20 years ago I learned that the correct pronunciation of his name is Kinichi. Even Mr. Yoshimura’s two daughters did not know their uncle’s correct name. The Japanese language, especially names, is difficult. But at least we can now begin using the correct pronunciations. 

Kinichi (Kanekazu) Yoshimura

Photos courtesy of Dr. Taguchi and the Omiya Bonsai Art Museum.

There is always new for me to learn and share with the global bonsai community.

One thought on “Toshio (Norio) Kobayashi

  1. Pingback: Toshio (Norio) Kobayashi – Valavanis Bonsai Blog –