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Mame & Shohin Books

Our reviews include most of the very best of bonsai books available. If you have a favourite book that is not mentioned, please email us and we will do our best to review it.

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Note: Many of the general bonsai books reviewed above have sections or a few pages devoted to miniatures. These books are aimed exclusively at tiny trees.

Bonsai Miniatures: Quick and EasyBonsai Miniatures: Quick and Easy (Zeko Nakamura) Shufunotomo 1973. 62 pages,

Miniature book on miniature bonsai (Mame bonsai) by a famous Japanese comedian. Compact, short, but surprisingly complete little book on growing "mame" style bonsai. Many very nice mame bonsai, including some surprising material as bonsai (such as the dandelion). Short but good text with good drawings and every other page a Mame bonsai example, many very nice. Unfortunately, it is out of print, but someone should revive it.

Miniature Bonsai: A Complete Guide to Cultivating Tiny Bonsai (Lin Kuo-cheng) Hilit Publishing, Taiwan. 1995.

This is an odd book. Many of the bonsai (or penjing) that are pictured are a bit odd, too. But the text comes fairly close to actually living up to the title. Chapters discuss the appreciation of bonsai, its history, the basics of cultivation, styles, shaping techniques for such small trees, pots, tools, buying bonsai, and a final section on creating bonsai, highlighting 16 kinds of trees. The book closes with a section on accessories and displaying bonsai, again from the Chinese perspective. The photography is excellent (despite the sometimes odd trees), and the text is clear and fairly concise. Unfortunately, the glued-together binding of the book is delicate. You may find yourself dismantling it, using a 3-hole punch, and keeping it in a ring binder. It may be out of print.

Miniature Bonsai (Herb L. Gustafson) Sterling Publishing 1994. 192 pages.

Photography by author, drawings by Sally Markos. There are few pages you can turn without Herb's photos as descriptive support for his guidance -- from the opening pages defining bonsai to the last pages discussing display. From planting the seeds to nursery purchase, cuttings, divisions, he covers acquiring material. Instructions are clear and cover pruning, wiring, shari and jin, including sabamiki (hollowing out trunk), pot selection, and group plantings. Miniature bonsai by Herb are given the attributes of larger bonsai, and his involvement with miniature plant growing is inspiring.

Mini-bonsai Hobby (Tei’ichi Katayama) Japan Publications, Inc. 1974. 95 pages. Paperback.

While it purports to be about at mame or shohin bonsai, this is mostly a basic book on bonsai, aimed at beginners. There is little here that wouldn't apply equally to full-size bonsai. The book is illustrated by well-done line drawings demonstrating the various bonsai techniques. There are four black and white photos of excellent mame bonsai. Growers of mame and shohin trees need this book, but it certainly could have been better (see below). It is out of print.

Miniature Bonsai (Tei’ichi Katayama) Publisher unknown, possibly Japan Publications, as above. 1974. 210 pages. Hard cover.

In Japanese. Illustrated with 100 pages of excellent color (and a few black and white) photographs of superb mame bonsai. While the text is in Japanese, the line-drawing, how-to illustrations are very clean and easy to follow with a little study (and remembering that text and pictures flow from right to left!). This book would be a best seller if someone would translate it into English. Probably out of print. I bought mine used in Tokyo (2,100 Yen).

Pop Bonsai: Fun with Arranging Small Trees and Plants (Lisa Tajima). Kodansha pub. 2004. U.S.

This is a quirky, fun little book that takes neither itself nor bonsai very seriously. Don’t look for too much useful how-to information here. Instead look for odd ideas for tiny bonsai, companion plants, odd pots, and display possibilities.

Beginners Books & DVD’s 

Intermediate and Advanced Books

Indoor Bonsai Books





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