A bonsai tree as old as Japantown

David Thompson and the century-old bonsai.

David Thompson and his century-old bonsai.

WHEN NEIGHBORHOOD RESIDENT David Thompson read about plans for a Zen rock garden at the southern end of Cottage Row to commemorate the 110th anniversary of Japantown, he had an idea: That might be the perfect place for his century-old bonsai tree.

The tree has been in the same family since it was brought from the 1915 Panama-Pacific International Exhibition and planted in their garden designed by legendary gardener Makoto Hagiwara, who also created the Japanese Tea Garden in Golden Gate Park.

Thompson, now its guardian, has been searching for the right home for the tree’s second century. He has been connected with the Japanese landscape designers planning the Cottage Row Zen garden.

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  • George Haas

    A bonsai from the 1915 Panama Pacific International Exhibition should consider being in a collection and museum such as the Bonsai Garden at Lake Merritt in Oakland. Bonsai require professional care and maintenance for its longevity. The curator is Kathy Shaner, a certified professional bonsai artist and instructor, with more than 20 years of experience in bonsai care. Website: http://gsbf-lakemerritt.org