Descanso Bonsai Society demonstrators on June 19, 2018, are Dr. Thomas S. Elias and his wife Dr. Hiromi Nakaoji, or Tom and Hiromi to us. They will be doing a fascinating class on viewing stones—what they are, how to classify them, where to find them–complete with demo stones for a hands on experience.
Tom and Hiromi Elias Biography
Tom was the fifth director of the National Arboretum in Washington D.C., retiring in 2009 after sixteen years there. During his tenure the National Bonsai & Penjing Museum expanded its tree and viewing stone collections as well as its buildings.
Tom is a botanist and long time student of Asian arts and culture, especially stone appreciation, penjing and bonsai, and classical gardens. He organized the Chinese Stone Appreciation Study Group that meets regularly in southern California and he also serves as Chairman of the Viewing Stone Association of North America. He also serves as president of Bonsai Clubs International, the largest international organization devoted to bonsai and stone appreciation.
Tom first visited China in the spring of 1978 as a guest of the Chinese Academy of Sciences to tour and evaluate several botanical gardens and botanical research facilities. He has visited China and Japan over 30 times to study and to lecture at established institutions.
Tom has published over 30 articles on aspects of stone appreciation and Asian horticulture and has written numerous books on viewing stones, including one with Hiromi, entitled Chrysanthemum Stones, The Story of Stone Flowers.
He serves as Honorary Vice Chair of the View Stone Association of China, Vice President of the Guangdong Viewing Stone Association, and the Honorary Chairman of the Macau Stone Arts Association. Tom also has traveled and worked extensively in Asiatic Russia and Japan. He was presented with an honorary doctorate degree from the Russian Academy of Sciences in 2005 and, in 2010, the Japanese government awarded him with their highest honor for a non-Japanese. He was inducted into the Order of the Rising Sun with Gold Leaves and Rosette.
Hiromi is a native of Kyoto, Japan but she came to the United State to pursue graduate studies. She has been a professional English/Japanese interpreter and translator for over twenty years and has worked for several of the major energy and health care companies in Japan and for the U.S. Department of State and Justice Department.
Hiromi has been involved in the study of bonsai, penjing and stone appreciation in Japan and China for over ten years. She is a frequent traveler to China and Japan and she is the co-author of several articles on bonsai and stone appreciation.
Tom and Hiromi have assembled a large collection of Chinese and other Asian viewing stones, and one of the largest collections of books and publications in North America on Asian stone appreciation.