Bonsai forms

Note that the images here are not intended to show you how to shape your bonsai. They are just intended to illustrate the differences between the forms.

According the angle of the trunk

Formal upright, chokkan.
The trunk points straight towards the sky and tapers upwards. The branches and roots are symmetrical around the trunk.

Informal upright, moyogi.
Like the formal upright, but the trunk need not be straight. The apex is above the base.

Slanting, shakan.
Branches on both sides of the trunk.

Cascade, kengai.
The foliage is spilling in a graceful curve to below the pot.

Semi cascade, han-kengai.
Like the cascade, only the foliage need not reach below the pot.

According the shape of the trunk

Literati, bunjingi.
Slender trunk with the branches grouped at the top.

Coiled, bankan.
The trunk is coiled, sometimes around itself.

Twisted, nejikan.
The trunk twists around itself.

According to the number of trunks

Single, tankan.
Double, sokan.
The branches should be distributed like on a single trunk.

Triple, sankan.

Quintuple, gokan.

Clump, kabudachi.
A cluster of trunks grown from a single root.

According to the shape of the roots

Exposed, neagari.
The soil has been eroded away around the roots.
Sinuous, netsuranari.
Several trunks growing from a single root sweeping in a curve under the surface.

Raft, ikadabuki.
Several branches which grow out of a single fallen trunk. Always stands in a straight line.

According to the shape of the branches

Broom, hokidachi.
The branches fan out from a point on the trunk.
Windswept, fukinagashi.
Like a tree growing in a windy place, so all branches points in the same direction.

Extended, sashieda.
One branch is significantly larger than the others and extends far to one side.


Group, yose-ue.
Planted in a low, wide pot to make it look like a forest. The smaller trees at the back to force the perspective.
Rock, Ishitsuki.

(This is a copy of one of my oldest web pages, from 1995 July 06 (or rather several small pages combined into one, but otherwise unchanged).


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    You have given nice description about the types of bonsai plants with picture presentation. This is really very helpful. Thanks for sharing these information.

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