Masahiko Kimura (木村 正彦, Kimura Masahiko, 1940-) was born in Ōmiya-ku, Saitama, Japan on March 31, 1940 and is a widely recognized bonsai master. He is not related to the judo practitioner also named Masahiko Kimura.
His father died when Masahiko was 11. By the wishes of his mother, at age 15 he started spending his time as an apprentice under the bonsai master Motosuke Hamano of Toju-en Bonsai Garden. This was for eleven years until about 1966. (Kimura would later say that during his teens he really wanted to be a rock and roll musician.) After this he took to working in the horticulture field on his own.
He went on to become known as the "Magical Technician of Kindai Shuppan." (Kimura has said that he personally doesn't really care for the title of "Magician.") His breathtaking sculpting and styling of trees on behalf of that Kyoto bonsai magazine publisher was done using hand and power tools of his own design. His skill with carving deadwood quickly made him well known in the bonsai community. While his work was at first highly controversial, his energy and vision soon became as respected as his art. A characteristic of his trees is a defined interplay of artistically sculptured deadwood with a smaller amount of more traditionally appearing live wood snaking up from the soil to foliage apex. Many of his trees have a more elaborate starkness than is ordinarily found in the wild, innovatively creative without historic model.
Because of Kimura's willingness to break with convention, many in Japan refused to take him seriously, at least in the early years. Nowadays, no one disputes Kimura's genius or his pioneering position in the bonsai world. The sometimes controversial author and videotape producer has traveled in many countries, doing presentations and demonstrations. He first demonstrated and conducted a workshop outside Japan at the 1987 Golden State Federation Bonsai Convention in Anaheim, California. Kimura has demonstrated at these other major conventions, among others: Golden State Bonsai Federation (1990 Burlingame and 2006 Sacramento); World Bonsai Friendship Federation (1989 Omiya, Japan; 1997 Seoul, Korea; and 2017 Saitama, Japan); European Bonsai Association (1990 Turin, Italy and 1992 Luxembourg); Bonsai Clubs International (1992 Memphis, Tennessee, 1996 Washington, D.C. and 2006 Foshan City, China); American Bonsai Society Symposium (2000 Detroit, Michigan); Asia-Pacific Bonsai and Suiseki Exhibition and Convention (2003 Manila, Philippines and 2011 Takamatsu, Japan); Federatión Latino Americana de Bonsai (2003 Caracas, Venezuela); and Association of Australian Clubs (2005 Sydney).
His work as documented in the form of articles and photographs has graced the pages of many major specialty publications around the world. Trees designed by him, mostly Juniperus chinensis var. Shimpaku, won the prestigious Prime Minister's Award for the years 1988, 1995, 2000, and 2001, and the Minister of Education Award in 1999. He has had a number of students and apprentices from Japan, Europe, and America, several of which have gone on to become masters in their own right. These include Marco Invernizzi, Salvatore Liporace, Ernie Kuo, Marc Noelanders, Kawabe Takeo, and Ryan Neil.
Katsuhito Onishi edited the Japanese texts The Magical Technician of Kindai Shuppan in 1982, Part II in 1984, and Part III in 1989. The English version, made up of Part II with some of Part I, was published as The Bonsai Art of Kimura by Stone Lantern Publishing Co. in 1992. The Magician: the Bonsai Art of Kimura 2 was released in 2007 by Stone Lantern. A Spanish translation, Masahiko Kimura: el técnico mágico del bonsai actual was published in 1988 by Ediciones Tyris, S.A.,