Bonsai literally translates as "a tree in a pot", however simply potting a tree or bush does
necessarrily make it a bonsai.
A bonsai is not chemically treated to stop it from growing larger
nor having its growth stunted by confining the roots in the
pot, but through prudent clipping
training. A bonsai does not have to be old but does get better with age and the right
care. Bonsai is the portrayal of a natural tree in a miniature form.
What is important is the illusion
of age and size.
A bonsai may consist of a tree, shrub, vine or multiple trees but is still refered to as a bonsai. You never
need to say bonsai tree because bonsai already includes the tree. Another element of bonsai
includes a pot which fits harmoniously with the tree to create a tree-like image. To enhance
or create the illusion of age, specimens are usually chosen with attributes such as gnarled
and twisted shapes, good branch ramification, exposed roots and even trunks stripped almost
completely bare of their bark.
Bonsai have been generaly classified and defined in a number of styles each owning it's own
set of rules.
||Formal Upright Bonsai or Chokkan- An upright trunk tapering from base to tip.
Branches should be either
horizantal or sloping downwards. Additionally
branches should be arranged alternating
either side of the trunk and every
third branch to the rear.
||Informal Upright Bonsai or Moyogi- A variation of the formal upright which
allows for either curving
of the trunk or curvation of the trunk.
||Slanting Bonsai or Shakan- Another variation of the formal upright only this
tree is normally slanting
to one side or the other.
||Broom Style Bonsai or Hokidachi- This style bonsai is shaped with all
branches emerging from the top of a straight
trunk and tapering to the ends
forming a rounded head of foliage.
||Windswept Bonsai or Fukinagashi- The idea in creating a windswept
bonsai is to imitate the movement of a tree
which has been exposed to high
winds. Every branch of a good windswept bonsai should be
swept in the same
direction in a natural looking way.
||Cascade Bonsai or Kengai- A cascade bonsai trunk must fall below the
base of the pot. This can capture
the image of a tree living high on a cliff.
||Semi-Cascade Bonsai or Han-Kengai- Similar to the cascade representing
a tree clinging to a cliff face. The
rule for semi-cascade bonsaiis that the lowest
point of the tree must be below the rim of
the pot but not it's base.
||Literati Bonsai or Bunjingi- With the shape of an ancient pine which has
shed it's lower branches the focal
point is it's trunk which should show great age
||Twisted Trunk Bonsai or Bankan- As the name implies a twisted trunk
bonsai is any tree with an exagerated
main trunk such as a s-shape or free form.
Most mass produced imported bonsai are grown in
the s- shaped style although
these are seldom accepted in classic bonsai.
||Twin Trunk Bonsai or Shoju- A twin trunk bonsai replicates a tree with two
trunks, one being smaller than
the other, which join together at it's base.
||Root-on-Rock Bonsai or Ishitsuki- The importance of this style is that a
rock is used in place of a pot.
The rock may stand in a dish or water tray. The
roots of the tree should appear to be or
actually be growing in a crevice or
of the rock. Multiple trees can be grown on a
single rock as long as it
appearance of a natural landscape.
||Root-Over-Rock Bonsai or Sekijoju- Imitating a tree growing in rocky
terrain were soil has eroded,
exposing the roots of the trees growing tightly
around a rock. Root-Over-Rock bonsai are
generaly planted in the ground for
several years to allow the roots to thicken and tighten
around the rock. The soil
is slowly removed from the roots exposing them to sun and air for
the bark to
develop characteristics of maturity.
||Exposed-Root Bonsai- This bonsai style represents a tree grown on the side
of a steep bank
where soil has been washed away exposing it's roots.
||Clump Style Bonsai or Kabudachi- Utilizing an odd number of trunks which
should vary in size growing on
the same roots. This style can be acheived
through the use of shoots which arise naturally
from the roots or through cutting
a trunk at the base and using the new shoots which arise
from the stump.
||Group Style Bonsai or Yose-ue- This bonsai style should include any
number of trunks with the minimum
being seven. Trunks should be of different
sizes and arranged to give the appearance of
depth and perspective. No trunk
should be hidden by another when veied from the front. Tallest
trees should be
placed in the center, trunks on the outer edge should lean slightly outward.
Also no three trunks should form a straight line. This bonsai style represents a
||Raft Style Bonsai or Ikadabuki- A raft style bonsai is one which has had
the branches on on sine of
the tree removed then laid sideways in the ground
the remaining branches become the new
trunks. By removing small strips of
bark on the side buried in the ground, the bonsai will
produce new roots growng
the length of the original trunk. This bonsai style looks similar
to the group style
except it all grows from a single tree.