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

Adaptation of Shohin(2) Shinpaku: Clear and Sharp Like Haircut

December 29, 2012

 Shinpaku (Chinese juniper) is as popular as pine trees. The well-kept Shari and Jin are very beautiful. Koji Hiramatsu, a director of All Nippon Shohin Bonsai Association in Takamatsu's Kokubunji town, adapted a Shinpaku which is about 50 years old and 20 centimeters in height.

Hiramatsu, wiring a bonsai at Shunshoen bonsai garden in Takamatsu's Kokubunji town
Hiramatsu, wiring a bonsai at Shunshoen bonsai garden in Takamatsu's Kokubunji town

Winter is the Best Season

 As is the case with Kuromatsu (Japanese black pine), it is preferable to adapt Shinpaku every 4 to 5 years. The time when the needles make hard to see the Shari and Jin is a good time to do. The winter is the best season to do the work because trees dtop growing. The quantity of water-raising is low and the sap won't ooze off. So doing it in the winter reduces a burden on the trees.

 The key to create a natural Jin is to cut the branch off a little longer and then to curve it a few years later.

 In the case of big trees, artists cut the branch first, and then wire it. However, for Shohin, it is easy to wire from the bottom to apex. So they do the cutting of the unnecessary branches and wiring at the same time.

Before adaptation (left) and after adaptation
Before adaptation (left) and after adaptation

Finish by Water

 Why are Jin and Shari, the most important part of Shinpaku, so beautiful? Because artists make every effort to do the finishing job.

 After trimming and wiring, it is easy to see the Jin and Shari. So then artists curve the tree to give the ancient look. The work is very important and needs to have a high skill.

 Finishing the trimming and wiring, they wash the tree by a water gun to remove the water deposit and bog moss carefully. After that, they paint the curved part with the lime sulfur to emphasize the whiteness. It also works as antiseptic to protect trees from rot. After a while, the lime sulfur runs out and the tree gets a natural taste.

Washing the Jin and Shari carefully
Washing the Jin and Shari carefully

 Hiramatsu says, "The concept of adaptation is the same with Shinpaku and Kuromatsu. Like haircut for human, trees need to be cut the unnecessary part to be clear and sharp."
(By Shigeo Hano)
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