Kathy Shaner, Sensei

On August 20, 2022, Redwood Empire Bonsai Society (REBS) members said thank you and farewell best wishes to Kathy Shaner, our beloved club Sensei of more than 20 years. Kathy is in the process of moving to a home waiting for her in Alabama.

Kathy is internationally known as a Master Bonsai professional, who apprenticed under the contemporary Bonsai Master Yasuo Mitsuya in Japan and became the first non-Japanese citizen and the first woman to be certified as a professional Bonsai artist and instructor by the Nippon Bonsai Association of Japan. She has been a devoted Bonsai practitioner for over 30 years.

She is leaving behind an era of Bonsai teaching and community service. She was the club’s Sensei to REBS members and the driving force in making the club well known for its August Annual Bonsai Show. Once an exhibition of more than 200 bonsai displays and the largest club show in the US for many years. Kathy with the help of REBS members ensured we had quality Bonsai displays. There were large, medium and small Shohin Bonsai trees all artfully displayed. For years the August Annual Show at the Santa Rosa Veterans Memorial Building was the single Bonsai event, and Bonsai enthusiasts from around the country came to take part in the activities; see large Bonsai displays, shop in the major vendor area and member sales, see Kathy’s demonstrations with demo tree raffles, bid on silent auctions, and enjoy Bonsai Café refreshments.

Kathy performed expert demonstrations and taught REBS members advanced techniques six to seven times a year. She also served as the curator for the Golden State Bonsai Federation Bonsai Garden at Lake Merritt in Oakland, California. She trained associate curator volunteers who care for and maintain the collection trees. In addition, Kathy performed demonstrations and advanced workshops for other clubs  and individuals located in the greater San Francisco, South, East, and North Bay Areas. She has travelled throughout the US providing Bonsai instruction to individuals and clubs. Kathy often performed as a headliner to regional conventions and seminars.

Kathy is kind and generous in welcoming new students of Bonsai. She teaches all levels of Bonsai – beginning, intermediate and advanced. It is well acknowledged that the best way to learn Bonsai is to join a local Bonsai club. In 2004, a dear friend introduced me to Bonsai to take up as a hobby in retirement. I visited REBS in September of that year and observed Kathy perform a demonstration. I was so impressed with her passion and confidence in teaching Bonsai skills, I decided to join REBS that evening. She has been my top-tier instructor ever since.

And, so REBS members thought it was most appropriate to take part in a “thank you” dinner and wish her well, hoping she will find the time to return to Northern California, her second home, for a visit.

George Haas

One thought on “Kathy Shaner, Sensei”

  1. Thanks to all who organized this event and wrote this nice article. (And seeing a few of the old familiar faces was a treat, too!)

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