Who we are
This web site was developed in response to the growing interest in Asian and, especially, Chinese stone appreciation among English speaking audiences.
VSANA assembled a team of specialists, advisors, to assist in providing accurate information about Chinese and other Asian stones, classical and modern, and how the Chinese have long valued and appreciated them for over 1,000 years. This is a formidable undertaking and an important one since there is much misinformation about Chinese stone appreciation in western countries. To accomplish this, our advisors will help us from misinterpreting or misunderstanding concepts and principles. Our wonderful interpreters have varying degrees of experience with Chinese stone appreciation and provide critically important assistance in translations and in key interviews with leaders and specialists in the Chinese stone appreciation community. Leaders, collectors, and dealers in the various provinces of China have welcomed our interest and graciously supply us with information about local and regional stones.
The content for this site is generated by Dr. Thomas S. Elias and Dr. Hiromi Nakaoji. Elias is a botanist and long time student of Asian arts and culture, especially stone appreciation, penjing and bonsai, and classical gardens. He organized the Chinese Stone Appreciation Study Group that meets regularly in southern California and he also serves as Chairman of the Viewing Stone Association of North America. Elias first visited China in the spring 1978 as a guest of the Chinese Academy of Sciences to tour and evaluate several botanical gardens and botanical research facilities. He has visited China over 24 times to study and to lecture at established Chinese institutions. Elias has written over 30 articles on aspects of stone appreciation and Asian horticulture and, with his wife Hiromi, authored Chrysanthemum Stones, The Story of Stone Flowers published by Floating Worlds Editions in 2010. He serves as Honorary Vice Chair of the View Stone Association of China and the Honorary Chairman of the Macau Stone Arts Association. He also has travelled and worked extensively in Asiatic Russia and Japan. Elias was presented with an honorary doctorate degree from the Russian Academy of Sciences in 2005 and, in 2010, the Japanese government awarded him with their highest honor for a non- Japanese. He was inducted into the Order of the Rising Sun with Gold Leaves and Rosette. Elias has authored or edited seven books and over 135 papers.
Nakaoji is a native of Kyoto, Japan but she came to the United State to pursue graduate studies. She has been a professional English/Japanese interpreter and translator for over twenty years and has worked for several of the major energy and health care companies in Japan and for the U.S. Department of States and Justice Department. Nakaoji has been involved in the study of bonsai, penjing and stone appreciation in Japan and China for over ten years. She is a frequent traveler to China and Japan and she is the co-author of several articles on bonsai and stone appreciation and the book Chrysanthemum Stones, The Story of Stone Flowers. Nakaoji and Elias have assembled a large collection of Chinese and other Asian viewing stones, and one of the largest collections of books and publications in North America on Asian stone appreciation.