Japanese White Pine, in training since 1625. (All photos: © Stephen Voss)

There is a Japanese white pine bonsai tree that is nearly 400 years old at the National Bonsai and Penjing Museum in Washington D.C. But age is not the only extraordinary feature about this bonsai; it also survived the Hiroshima atomic bombing. Although the explosion zone was less than two miles away, the bonsai was kept in a nursery with high walls that protected it from the blast. It had been cared for by bonsai master Masaru Yamaki, who donated it to the Museum in 1976. Its history only became known when Yamaki’s grandsons visited the Museum in 2001.

This historic tree is part of one of the largest collections of Japanese bonsai and Chinese penjing in North America. The Museum also houses one of the most famous bonsai masterpieces in the world, known as Goshin, created by John Y. Naka. The art of bonsai is informed by Zen Buddhism and what is known as ‘wabi-sabi,’ the imperfect and impermanent. Bonsai take years of dedication, and they survive longer than those who nurture them.

The idea of slowing down is what motivated Washington D.C.-based photographer Stephen Voss to start capturing the miniature trees at the Museum. His captivating photographs are being brought together into a hand-crafted book called In Training, which showcases the beauty of the bonsai. Below are some of Voss’ stunning and timeless photographs. 

http://www.bonsaibook.co/Crape Myrtle, in training since 2010.

California Juniper, in training since 1964.

Chinese Elm, training date unknown.

Sargent Juniper, training date unknown.

Eastern Arborvitae, in training since 1989.

California Jupiter, in training since 1925.

Chinese Juniper, in training since 1953, and one of the most famous bonsai trees in the world.

Smooth-leaved elm, in training since 1982.

Buttonwood, in training since 1975.

To learn more about Stephen’s book project and his kickstarter campaign, please visit his website