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Bonsai Historical

History of WBFF

This is our History Page, our full background on the establishment of WBFF and beyond. 

Saburo Kato

The beginning

Since the late 1970's Saburo Kato, Haruo Kaneshiro, John Naka, and Ted Tsukiyama worked tirelessly to create the World Bonsai Friendship for the pure love of bonsai. The catalyst for the creation of WBFF was “Expo '70” held in 1970 in Osaka, Japan. During this World's Fair, the efforts and unity of the Japanese bonsai community, including Saburo Kato's noble precept of "World Peace through Bonsai," was formulated.

The Region

Once established, WBFF's Bylaws divided the world into 9 regions, and required that each region would have a regional organization represented on the WBFF Board of Directors. The regions comprised:
1. Africa
2. Australia/New Zealand
3. China (including Taiwan)
4. Europe
5. India
6. Japan
7. Asia-Pacific (excluding China, India and Japan)
8. Latin America (including Mexico and the Caribbean)
9. North America (Canada/U.S.A)

World Bonsai Conference Osaka_1980

North & Latin American Region

WBFF's North American Region originally included Canada, the United States, Mexico and the Caribbean. However, with deference to their languages differences, the WBFF Bylaws were later amended to place Mexico and the Caribbean in the Latin American Region. Hence, since 2007 the North American Region has included only Canada and the United States,

The first four WBC that host quadrennially 

4th WBC 2001 in Munich &
the switch of chairmanship by region

4th World Bonsai Convention in Munich, Germany in 2001

During the 4th World Bonsai Convention in Munich in 2001, the North American Region was again selected to host a World Bonsai Convention, this time for the 5th World Bonsai Convention to be held in Washington, D.C. in 2005. In addition, the WBFF Bylaws were amended in 2001 to pass the Chairmanship of WBFF to the President of the regional organization selected to host the next World Bonsai Convention, so from that time forward the WBFF Chairmanship has rotated every four years.

Felix Laughlin became the WBFF Chairman from 2001 to 2005 with Saburo Kato becoming Honorary Chairman of WBFF and Daizo Iwasaki appointed WBFF Vice-Chairman.

Felix Laughlin, the past chairman emeritus of WBFF

5th WBC 2005 at Washington DC 

5th World Bonsai Convention in Washington, DC in 2005

The Latin American Region was selected as the regional host for the 6th World Bonsai Convention to be held in San Juan, Puerto Rico in 2009. At the end of the 5th World Bonsai Convention, Solita Rosade, as President of the Latin American Bonsai Federation, succeeded Felix Laughlin as WBFF Chairman,

6th World Bonsai Convention held in San Juan, Puerto Rico

During the 6th World Bonsai Convention in San Juan in 2009, the China Region was selected as the regional host for the 7th World Bonsai Convention in Jin Tan, China

6th WBC 2009
San Juan, Puerto Rico

7th WBC 2013
in Jin Tan China

7th World Bonsai Convention held in Jin Tan, China in 2013

Hu Yun Hua succeeded Solita Rosade as the WBFF Chairman for the period 2009 to 2013. During the 7th World Bonsai Convention in Jin Tan, China in 2013 the Japanese Region was selected as regional host for 2017 and Jiro Fukuda became the organisations’ Chairman. Naemi Iwasaki was appointed as Vice-Chairman.

8th World Bonsai Convention held in Saitama Japan in 2017

During the 8th World Bonsai Convention in Saitama Japan in 2017, the Australia/New Zealand Region was selected as regional host for 2021. Lindsay Bebb became WBFF Chairman and Naemi Iwasaki continued in the role of Vice-Chairman.

8th WBC 2017, Saitama Japan

9th WBC 2022,
Perth Australia

9th World Bonsai Virtual Convention 2022

9th World Bonsai Virtual Convention 2022
Doornjil Yoordaniny Coming Together – Moving Forward
8 – 16 October 2022 from Perth, Western Australia.
The actual exhibition was only conducted in Australia since travel restrictions caused by the COVID-19 Pandemic prevented delegation arrival. However, this was the first Virtual World Bonsai Convention, succesfully  had demonstrations from every WBFF zone, including some live, interactive sessions with International Demonstrators with unlimited replays for registrants. Exhibitions of Bonsai and Suiseki in Australian Collections and a selection of free optional activities. The Bonsai Society of WA hosted a successful Virtual World Bonsai convention, with over 500 registrants watching virtually from all over the world.

10th World Bonsai Convention 2026

Malaysia, representing The Asia Pacific Region, won the hosting rights for the Tenth World Bonsai Convention 2026 in Kuala Lumpur, the proposed dates are from Friday 28 August – Monday 31 August 2026.
The Convention will be organized by the Malaysia Bonsai & Suiseki Society (MBSS), with the physical and logistic work being carried out by the members of the Society.
Malaysia celebrates the country's multiethnic heritage and set the tagline UNITY IN DIVERSITY with pride and respect. many bonsai lovers come from different races and cultural backgrounds, it is resonates well with the WBFF’s vision, which is to “promote international friendship and understanding through bonsai”. We believe WBC 2026 will showcase the bonsai art that unites us through our diversity. Our different cultural heritage makes and shapes the Malaysian’s bonsai art we see today. 

10th WBC 2026 
Kuala Lumpur Malaysia


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