BONSAI WORLD A series of articles by The Shikoku Shimbun focuses on the attractions of bonsai which encapsulate small universes in containers.

Tree's Shape (1) Chokkan and Shakan: Pursue Ideal Based on Character

October 1, 2012

 There are various shapes of bonsai. Bonsai artists arrange the tree's shape by trimming and wiring based on its natural shape and characteristics to pursue the ideal shape.

Balance is Everything

 Chokkan is one of the shapes of bonsai which the trunk is straight from any angle and tapers toward the apex. In other words, it must have a good "Kokejun." The roots must extend to all direction and the branch must maintain the balance in good order. It is considered as the most basics of bonsai shapes.

 This shape describes a tree in mountains and fields or a huge tree in a forest of Japanese cedar in a pot. The shape like bamboo shoot is the ideal.

Chokkan Kuromatsu (Japanese black pine) having good Kokejun at Obika Engei in Takamatsu's Kokubunji town
Chokkan Kuromatsu (Japanese black pine) having good Kokejun at Obika Engei in Takamatsu's Kokubunji town

 Keiji Obika, owner of Obika Engei in Takamatsu's Kokubunji town, says, "My father who dead in 1993 liked Chokkan. He loved this tree so I grow it very carefully now. With good advices by other bonsai artists in this area, this tree's Nebari (condition of roots visible out of the surface of dirt) and Hisho (characteristics of bark) are better than the one in exhibition of Kyoshinkai in 1995."

Natural Taste

 Different from Chokkan, Shakan is a shape which the trunk is leaned to one side. The shape shows the tree's survival power even in the strong wind and rain.

 To have a sense of security, the roots need to spread deeply and strongly to other side. It is important for good shape to control the size of branches of curved side and emphasize the trunk's curve. Compared with Chokkan whose shape is beautiful triangle, Shakan has unique curved trunk and is loved by many fanciers.

 Fumio Ideue, owner of Ideue Kikkoen bonsai garden in Takamatsu's Kinashi town, grows a Shakan Akamatsu (Japanese red pine) which is about 150 years old. The Shari is great.

Shakan having good Shari at Ideue Kikkoen bonsai garden in Takamatsu's Kinashi town
Shakan having good Shari at Ideue Kikkoen bonsai garden in Takamatsu's Kinashi town

 Ideue says, "The tree was grown as Moyogi (trunks draw curves in patterns). One day I reshaped to Shakan. The original tree is very different from this one. Now this shape shows the tree received wind from the left like windbreak of Echizen seashore.
(By Shigeo Hano)
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