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Vol#11 Bonsai Styles - Part Two

Part Two: Cascade and Semi Cascade 

Last time, we tried to identify and understand the chokkan, shakan and moyogi styles.

In this time’s continuation, I would like to discuss two other prominent styles, namely:

  1. Cascade (Kengai)
  2. Semi Cascade (Han-Kengai)

■ What is the difference between the Cascade and Semi Cascade styles? 

Kengai or han-kengai are styles in which the trunk rises from the base and bends downwards to form a suspension.

In the Cascade style, the branches are suspended further than the bottom of the pot, growing downwards. In the Semi Cascade style, the branches and roots take a parallel position, and they do not suspend as deeply as the Cascade bonsai.

Both styles resemble trees that have grown firmly in a harsh natural environment, such as cliffs, and have weathered the wind and snow for many years. 


Semi Cascade (Han-Kengai)

 Cascade (Kengai)

 It is not an exaggeration to say that these forms best illustrate the severity of nature.  

■ What kind of bonsai pots work best for these styles? 

Cascade and Semi Cascade bonsai trees are often planted in deep, tall pots that come in a variety of shapes. The specific shape of the pot is determined by the species of the tree and the strength of the trunk. 

For example, if it is a strong, Cascade Japanese Black Pine, a square shaped pot is recommended. On the other hand, a soft, Semi Cascade maple tree, would fare much better in a circle or flower shaped pot. 

Also, stones and the like can be used as well since they reaffirm the strong and independent character of these trees in their natural habitat. 

You will be able to create a more natural look if you adjust your bonsai while keeping in mind the altitude of the original trees. For example, in Japan, maple trees, plums and azaleas grow naturally at relatively low altitudes, and thus, can be planted together in the same pot.  

■ How can I style my bonsai?

The balance between the bend of the main trunk and the hanging branches is important when styling the tree in kengai or han-kengai.

For an aesthetically pleasing appearance, it is a good idea to make the suspended branches grow out horizontally to maintain balance of the tree. 

1. Main trunk / 2 Hanging branches

Experience the severity of nature with kengai and han-kengai bonsai trees.

Try to recreate it yourself with your own bonsai! 

Until next time.

ReBonsai   Yusuke Ogawa

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