Japanese Bonsai Terminology

After reviewing my score sheet from my recent bonsai show, I realized how few of the Japanese bonsai terms I really knew. I had always been familiar with the more common ones like jin, shari, nebari, shohin, and so on, but there were a number that I had never heard of before. Not wanting to find myself in a conversation and not know what the other person means, I decided to do a bit of research and learn more of them.

  • CHOKKAN formal upright form
  • MOYOGI informal upright form
  • SHAKAN slanting form
  • FUKINAGASHI windswept form
  • SABAMIKI split-trunk
  • SHARIMIKI driftwood
  • TANUKI ‘cheats’/form where sapling is attached to deadwood/ also known as a ‘Pheonix Graft’.
  • HOKIDACHI broom form
  • KENGAI cascade
  • HAN KENGAI semi-cascade
  • SHIDARE-ZUKURI weeping
  • BUNJIN literati form
  • NEGARI exposed root form
  • SEKJOJU root over rock
  • ISHI SEKI planted on rock
  • SOKAN twin-trunk
  • SANKAN triple-trunk
  • KABUDACHI multiple-trunk
  • NETSUNAGARI root connected
  • YOSE UE group planting
  • SAI-KEI landscape planting
  • PEN-JING landscape planting
  • SHARI deadwood on trunk
  • JIN deadwood branch
  • NEBARI trunkbase/ surface roots
  • YAMADORI collected material
  • SUIBAN shallow water tray for display rock plantings
  • TOKONOMA traditional Japanese display area
  • BONKEI tray landscape containing rocks and small accent plants as well as trees.

Size classifications: exact sizes for each individual class varies from one authority to another; those below are taken from the 20th Grand View Bonsai Exhibition / Nippon Bonsai Taikan-ten.

  • MAME bonsai less than 7cm in height
  • SHOHIN bonsai upto 20cm in height
  • KIFU bonsai between 20 and 40cm in height
  • CHU bonsai between 40 and 60 cm in height
  • DAI bonsai over 60cm in height

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