Bonsai Styles – Part 1

By April 6, 2017 No Comments


Bonsai tree are fascinated by many, they are miniature trees as a reproduction of nature.  The various shapes on the bonsai trees are called styles, each representing a tree in different environment.

Formal Upright – Chokkaan

Natural environment:  Flat land protected from harsh elements.

Straight tapered trunk with the apex over the tree base.  The first branch at 1/3rd of the tree’s length.  Branches closer to the apex are the shortest and the thinnest.  Foliage pads will also gets smaller.  The first branches might have a downward position while the top ones slightly upwards.

Informal Upright – Moyogi

Natural environment:  Windy flat land or slightly slope.

A natural looking curved trunk growing upwards.  Branches should grown from the outside of the trunk curve and have the same curved effect.  The apex is directly on the center of the tree base.  This style can also have a ‘Shari’, un debarked branch es and part of the trunk, that simulate nature when the branch was struck by a lightning.

Slant – Shakan

Natural environment:  Trees growing on a slope.

When a slightly curved trunk grows slanting towards the left or the right side.  It is essential that roots called ‘Nebari’ are visible on the opposite side as if holding the tree balance.  Branches and foliage pads should also be positioned on both side, keeping in mind to maintain the overall balance of the tree by positioning heavier foliage pads inside the slanting trunk.  The apex is positioned well away the tree base.

Cascade – Kengai

Natural environment:  Growing onside a snowy cliff.

In nature this style is when a tree grows over a cliff hanging downwards due to snow and wind.  The apex is below the tree base and in bonsai, below the pot.  The most popular tree for this style is the Juniper species.  Heavy curved trunk with equally curved branches emerge from outside the curved trunk.

Half or Semi-Cascade – Han Kengai

Natural environment:  Growing onside a cliff.

Similar to the cascade but the tree does not grow under the tree base or in bonsai below the pot bottom.

Windswept – Fukinagashi

Natural environment:  Growing onside a cliff.

The windswept in nature shows a tree surviving strong winds.  The trunk is growing towards left of right, determining were the harsh wind blows most.  Branches having the same pattern as the trunk and growing in the same direction.  This style might have ‘Jins’, debarked branches.

Raft Style – Ikadabuki

Natural environment:  Growing from a fallen tree.

A number of new trunks growing upright over a knocked down main trunk.  The new trunks will have one single design.

Forest Bonsai – Yose-ue

Natural environment:  Growing in a group plantation.

A group of organized planted trees that will mimmic a forest.  Trunks varies in height and thickness.  The foliage forms one single design.  Each individual apex should be in a pointed triangle or with a rounded top.  Each individual apexes should look the same.

Broom Style – Hokidachi

Natural environment:  Growing in perfect climate with no wind and good light.

The tree grows in the form of a broom.  The trunk height is 1/3 rd the total height of the tree, with the other 2/3 rd’s being the branches ramification shaped into a crown or broom.  Most commonly used are the deciduous trees, thanks to their ramification growth.

Other styles

Other styles have evolve in time.  We will be dealing with more styles next week in another blog.

Martin Abela

Author Martin Abela

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