Bjorn Bjorholm was born and raised in East Tennessee at the foothills of the Smoky Mountains, which undoubtedly played a major role in his love of nature and eventual involvement in bonsai beginning at the age of 13. From his initial introduction to bonsai, Bjorn has consistently strived towards the accomplishment of one goal – to improve the quality of bonsai art in the west. At the age of 16 he helped found the Knoxville Bonsai Society, and later, single-handedly developed the Tennessee Bonsai Exhibition, now an annual and continually expanding event.
While still in high school, Bjorn had the opportunity to visit Japan as part of an ACOM Cultural Exchange Program, and it was during this short trip that he first met bonsai master Keiichi Fujikawa in Osaka. At the time, Mr. Fujikawa jokingly offered Bjorn a position as an apprentice if he ever returned to Japan for an extended period of time. Little did Mr. Fujikawa know that Bjorn would in fact take the offer to heart and would focus his full energies on one day returning to study bonsai at Fujikawa Kouka-en nursery.
During his final year at the University of Tennessee, Bjorn wrote Mr. Fujikawa a series of letters asking if his previous offer (then six years past) still stood. Following several months with no response, Mr. Fujikawa finally answered with a single, short letter. Unfortunately, however, the response was somewhat unexpected as it expressed concern and apprehension about Bjorn’s Japanese language skills as well as his work ethic. Through several more letters and a bit of convincing, Mr. Fujikawa agreed to allow Bjorn a three-month trial period as an apprentice beginning in the spring of 2008.