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Dictionary of Japanese bonsai terms

Bonsai styles

chokkan (Formal Upright)

The chokkan bonsai typically has a single, upright trunk that tapers toward the top. Branches are symmetrically balanced and well spaced.

moyogi (Informal Upright)

Moyogi bonsai have a single trunk like the chokkan, but the trunk is usually curved. The trunk generally tapers toward the top like the formal upright.

kabudachi (Multiple Trunks)
sokan (Twin Trunk)
sankan (Triple Trunk)
gokan (5 trunk)

Two (or 3 or 5) trunks growing from the same root.

Usually one trunk is the largest and is referred to as the parent. Good conformation is based on the aesthetic balance of the smaller 'children' to the parent in trunk thickness.

shakan (Slanting)

A single trunk, similar to the formal and informal upright, but cultivated with the trunk growing at an angle other than 90 degrees to the ground. Branches are again balanced and well spaced.

netsuranari or netsunagari (Sinuous)

sinuous bonsai have multiple trees growing from a single sinuous root. 5 needle pine are most commonly used for this style.

neagari (Exposed Root)

Roots growing up out of the ground, suspending the trunk in the air, characterize this rare style of bonsai.

ikada (Raft)

Similar in effect to netsuranari, but typically with one straight horizontal root joining the trees. This is usually accomplished by burying a larger tree horizontally and then training each branch as a separate tree.

fukinagashi (Windswept)

Similar to the slanting style, but all of the branches are swept in one direction as though it were growing in a place with a strong constant prevailing wind.

kengai (Cascade)

An unusual form where the trunk and branches arch and 'cascade' over the edge of the pot. Usually planted in a deep pot to give balance to its unusual form.

bunjingi (Literati)

Upright or informally upright trunk bare of branches except at the top, characterized by a tasteful simple elegance.

hokidachi (Broom)

Broom style trees have an upright trunk, with branches evenly fanned out. It resembles an old fashioned broom standing on its handle.

yose-ue (Group)

A group planting of distinct separate trees, representing a grove, or forest.

ishitsuki (Rock-grown)

There are two basic types of rock grown bonsai: root grasping the rock, where the roots do enter the soil the rock is protruding from; and on, or in the rock, where the tree is planted in a pocket of earth attached to the rock, or in a hollow in the rock.

Growing techniques

misho -- Grown from seed
yamadori -- Collecting plants from nature
sashiki -- Grown from cuttings
tsugiki -- Grafting
toriki -- Layering and dividing

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