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The literal translation of the Japanese word Bonsai (pronounced bone - sigh) is tray or dish planting. The origin of bonsai is traced back about 1,200 years to ancient China where ornamental dwarf trees and landscape scenes, arranged in ornate containers,were used by the nobility as courtyard decorations. The art was eventually adopted by the Japanese who embraced it with great vigor, and refined it to its present state.

Bonsai in America is a relatively recent import from Japan, and its cultivation here is directly influenced by Japanese rules and standards. There are presently, in the United States, several Bonsai masters of Japanese origin, and several Americans who have earned the right to be called “master”. You will get to meet many of these masters
at our club and at state and national conventions.

An apt description of Bonsai is dwarfed trees. It is a tree or a group of trees that have been trained and developed by certain techniques from nursery stock, trees collected in the wild, or grown from cuttings, seed, or grafts into perfect miniatures of naturally growing trees – scale models, if you will.

Bonsai is a unique art form, in that it combines the science of horticulture, and the basic art principles of balance, symmetry, and proportion. Nature will provide the raw material, the rules and guidelines have been set down for us, but You, The Artist, will provide the inspiration that will express your idea of all that is beautifuland perfect in nature.

That is the art of Bonsai. Enjoy it, use your own artistic sense, and don’t be afraid to cut!


BUNJIN-JI – also known as Literati style – these trees do not follow the set rules and traditions of formal bonsai. They are a freestyle of tree that is reminiscent of a calligraphic brush stroke.

CHOKKAN – Formal upright – a single straight trunk with no variation on its verticality that is very symmetrical
looking.

FUKINAGASHI – Windswept style – all branches grow in one direction as if blown by a constant wind. Can vary from a soft breeze to a gale force wind.

HAN-KENGAI – Semi-cascade – the tree cascades over the rim, but not below the bottom of the container.

HOKIDACHI – Broom style – an upright trunk with branches arranged to resemble a fanlike shape.

IKADA-BUKI – Raft style – trunk laid down into soil as if fallen from natural causes from which branches emerge as separate trees planted along this trunkline.

ISHISUKE or ISHI-ZUKI – Tree over rock style – trees planted on, planted over or planted into a rock.

KENGAI – Cascade style – the trunk and branches grow over the rim of the container and are allowed to fall below the container.

MOYOGI – Informal upright style – trees with sinuous trunk with branching that comes off each curve of the trunk. The apex of this style is directly over the base of the tree.

NEAGARI – the roots of this tree are exposed, the style of the tree itself can be any of the basic styles of bonsai.

SHAKAN – this style of tree has slanted trunk. It is similar to Moyogi, but the apex is not directly over the base of the tree.

SOKAN – this style is a twin trunk tree, one is the parent (primary), the other the child (secondary).

YOSE-UE – forest grouping of trees, in which there are parent trees surrounded with children. It must have a variety of trunk sizes and spacing is a key. There must be no overlapping trunks when viewed from the front or sides. Of course there are many more styles that combine all of the above. For example you can have a windswept bunjin, a slant style bunjin or a Windswept Forest Grouping to name a few. The combinations are only limited by your creativity.