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Vol#21 Differences in Bonsai Styles

Bonsai tree in a Blue light pot

In Japanese traditional arts like tea ceremony, ikebana (flower arrangement), and martial arts, there's a concept called "Shin, Gyo, So" used to express the value of style and space. Especially in Japanese architecture, the importance of adhering to the appropriate style associated with each word is emphasized.

Shin: This is the most formal and structured style in Japanese architecture. It is used for formal occasions when hosting guests.

Gyō: It's a slightly more relaxed and softer style, focusing more on livability than formality, and it's less strict than Shin.

: Compared to Shin and Gyo, So is even more relaxed and allows for complete freedom in using materials and design.

In the case of bonsai, there's a certain level of formality associated with "Shin, Gyo, So" when it comes to arranging them as decorations. This difference in formality is determined by the tree species, tree shape, and tree age in the case of bonsai.

Shin: These are like patterned pine and cypress trees or old, patterned deciduous trees.

Gyō: This includes grouped pine and cypress trees or arrangements of deciduous trees with straight trunks and patterns.

: These are trees like pine, cypress, or cliff-hanging deciduous trees, or arrangements of wild mountain flowers.

These are the general differences in bonsai formality. However, depending on the tree species and the season, certain trees like plum or cherry blossoms, which represent specific times of the year, can surpass the formality of pine and cypress during their peak season.

However, the most important thing is "harmony within the space." Instead of being overly focused on formality, it's necessary to have an eye for the entire space. For example, in a solemn alcove, it's essential to place a bonsai with a strong presence that matches the grandeur of the space, creating a sense of balance.

Each bonsai has its own unique qualities, and by maximizing their potential and nurturing them, their presence can become even more significant. When cultivating your bonsai, consider where you want to place it and what kind of presence you want it to have. Please nurture it with care and intention.

Until next time!
ReBonsai Yusuke Ogawa

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