Master Kihachiro Kamiya was one of the leading bonsai professionals in Japan. He apprenticed under Toshinori Suzuki at Daijyu-en after Yasuo Mitsuya and Masumitsu Kubota. After 5 years of training, he opened his own Kihachi-en in 1976.
He won two Prime Minister Awards at Sakufu-ten (professional entry only, bonsai exhibit) for Informal Upright, Japanese Five-Needle Pine in 1994; and for a Clump of Japanese Five-Needle Pine ("Zuisho") in 2002. In 1998, Mr. Kamiya made Sakufu-ten history by being the first to receive all five of the different top awards. They were:
1985 Ministry of Education Award (Best of Conifer Bonsai)
1990 Nippon Bonsai Sakufu-ten Committee Award (Best of Shohin Bonsai)
1994 Prime Minister Award (Best of Show)
1995 Minister of Environment Agency Award (Best of Chuhin Bonsai)
1998 Minister of Agriculture, Forestry, and Fisheries Award (Best of Broad-leaf/ Deciduous Bonsai)
Through the years, Kamiya submitted a countless number of trees that were exhibited in Kokufu-ten. And over time, ten of his trees received the highest award Kokufu prize. (The Kokufu prize is highly coveted, as it is published under the owner's name.)
Mr. Kamiya passed away in January 2004, but his legacy lives on in the four students he instructed who are now professional bonsai artists. They are: Akio Kondo, Kanagawa Japan; Daisaku Nomoto, Miyasaki Japan; Shingo Matsuda, Nagasaki Japan; and Boon Manakitivipart, California, USA.