Thomas Elias

I had the honor to meet for the first time Dr. Thomas Elias and his wife, Hiromi Nakaoji during 2002 in occurrence of the International suiseki symposium of the US National Arboretum di Washington DC, in occasion of the acquisition of new suiseki exemplars from private collections. Between them my stone called “La Bella”.Elias was the director of the Washington DC Arboretum and Senior Executive at the agriculture Dept.

“The Viewing Stone collection of the Arboreum started in the 1976 with the donation of Japanese Historical stones Sei Meiseki and 53 Bonsai trees Doned by Japan in occasion of the 200 year anniversary for the American independence day. Firs stones where only coming from Japan and America but after 2002 where acquired 130 stones coming all over the world: Cina, Indonesia, Sud Africa, Zaire, Namibia, Italy, Canada and USA. The traditional suiseki collection has been sided by different other stiles of stone appreciation has the Scolar stones from Cina and the natural abstract stones”.

Tom Elias is also the author, coauthor and editor of 12 books and 145 scientific papers or scientific divulgation material. Two examples: “The complete trees of North America” (2000); “Field Guide to North American Trees not forgetting the long history of the introduction and establishment of bonsai in the western world in last centuries.
During his time as director, the museum underwent important changes, as the acquisition in the arboretum collections, of also important specimens of Bonsai.
 Dr. Elias worked together with important people for the bonsai community to get these improvements for the Museum: with Japaneese masters : Saburo Kato, Hirozumi Ichihara ( thar has been president of Satsuki association), Daizo Iwasaki, Toshio Kawamoto (Saikei association founder), Kenichi Oguchi (Suiseki, bonsai and calligraphy collector), Arishige Matsuura (president of the Nippon Suiseki), Shinichi Nakajima (President of the Japanese Bonsai Growers association) e Kenichi Obuchi (ex prime minister of Japan); as well as with John Naka, Yuji Yoshimura and Harry Hirao from USA.

About the conference held by Dr. Elias in Florence on the Chrysanthemum Stones, it was the first test on the experience gained during his travels around this type and the basis for his next book on the subject.
To be able to devote himself full-time to the study and publication of books on the Asian Arts, he retired from the office in the Arboretum on December 31, 2009.

The book: “Chrysanthemum Stones, The Story of Stone Flowers”, writed in cooperation of his wife, con Hiromi Nakaoji and published in 2010, has been the first english book on this particolar stones coming from Japan and Cina.
He has been co-author with Kemin Hu for the writing of “Spirit Stones, “The Ancient Art of the Scholar’s Rock”.
Author of “ Viewing Stones of North America: A Contemporary Perspective” published in 2014.
Tom Elias  is autor also of many articles on bonsai, penging and about the appreciation of stones.
President of the “Viewing Stones of North America association- VSANA",  (, he was elected as Honorary  Vice President and Vice Chairman of the Viewing Stone Association China; Honorary President of Macau Stone Art Association; Honorary  Vice President of the Guangdong View Stone Association; and Honorary President of the National Bonsai Foundation, with the goal of making the National Bonsai & Penjing Museum the best museum of its kind in the world.  
International consultant of the World Bonsai Friendship Federation; during 2010, He was awarded the Medal of Honor and incorporated into the Order of the Rising Sun by the Japanese government for his work in promoting Japanese art and culture in the world.
This is the highest recognition given to a non-Japanese citizen .... In short, updating the list of awards received by Tom is impossible for me.
I only add that he gave lectures by invitation, during important meetings in Australia, England, Germany, Italy, Indonesia, Japan, China, New Zealand, the Philippines and where there were stones to discover; regularly then, in the United States. Currently the Dr. Elias and Mrs., live in Claremont (California).
Dr. Thomas Elias & Hiromi Nakaoji, great friendr of’A.I.A.S.
Dr. Elias was unanimously elected Onorary Member of A.I.A.S.
As Judge and Guest of Honor, he attended to our Congress 2015 in Aversa (Caserta) and to that of 2016 in Gonzaga (Mantova).
On the VSANA wep pages, he is promoting great italian stones, of which he is a great estimator, showing images and tecnical comments on the different lithology and shape. His benevolence towards us, our Association and our stones has also clearly manifested, bringing specimens of Ligurian Limestones Palombino to the most important Japanese Exhibitions.
Luciana Queirolo AIAS chairwoman