Kind of Matsu

Ezo-matsu (Yezo spruse)  

The raw trees for use in bonsai were transported from Kunashiri Island in the Kuril Islands to mainland Japan in large numbers before the war, in an instant creating a large demand for ezo-matsu that is still talked about today. It is not difficult to imagine that the ezo-matsu’s dignified demeanor, which could be described as a wonder of the creation of nature astonished the people of those times. The highlight of this tree is above all its majestic and changeful form. Rooted in the earth of the desolate northern country, it must have endured nature’s harshness through many months and years. It has long been protected in its pot also, the brilliance of its existence never declining. This is a superb tree with a rich history that will continue to capture the imagination of many. 

Goyomatsu (Japanese white pine)  

The goyomatsu has a northern and a southern variety, called Shikoku-goyo, Nasu-goyo, Azuma-goyo and so on depending on where they grow. Numerous old trees of historical interest have been derived from each of these. The white pine and the black pine are the two jewels of conifer bonsai, and the annual Kokufu bonsai exhibition. In contrast to the exciting and masculine black pine, the white pine has a delicate appearance and elegance, its short, dense needles adapting well with all tree shapes and bringing our various kinds of beauty. This tree, a moyogi, has the form of a calm and self-possessed old tree, its roots vigorously fixed in the earth. Its leaves are arranged beautifully, relating a story of manu months and years on its tray.

Kuromatsu (Japanese black pine)  

Matsushima, Miyajima, Amanohashidate ... There are places in Japan that are especially famous for black pine, and Japan is sometimes described as the ‘land of the pine’. The black pine has long been a familiar presence in Japan, becoming also an object of worship in the Shinto religion. These days, as bonsai, the black pine and the Japanese white pine are the two jewels of highly popular conifer bonsai. This tree, a moyogi with a thick trunk, suggests a wild eagle with wings outspread, its splendidly rough bark and upright pine needles abounding with masculine strength. This level of dignity cannot be achieved unless great care has been taken of the tree on its tray for many years. In form as well as aura, it is a sight that lover of bonsai would find irresistible.

Nishiki-matsu (Strange shaped red pine)  

The nishiki-matsu is a variant of Japanese black pine found along the coast of the Seto Inland Sea in Takamatsu City, Kagawa Prefecture. It has the characteristic that the thick cork bark tears deeply, and the atmosphere like an old tree that has withstood the wind and snow is preferred, and it is popular as a bonsai and garden tree.


Tree shape


Although not strictly defined, the bunjingi or literati style generally refers to a slim-trunked tree with few branches that exudes an air of wabi-sabi. The Japanese red pine and Japanese white pine are typically grown in this style.


Upright style of conifer bonsai featuring a strong, vertical trunk. The Japanese cedar is a representative example.


Windswept style. A tree whose trunk and branches flow in one direction, as if blown by the wind.


Rock-grown style of bonsai. The roots either cling to the rock itself or are planted in crevices in the rock filled with, for example, keto tsuchi, a peat containing vegetation that grows in rivers.


Jin  The bone-white deadwood portion of a branch.

Shari  The bone-white deadwood portion of a tree trunk. Shari is often seen in Sargent juniper, temple juniper, and Japanese yew bonsai, as well as old flowering plum trees. In any of these trees the balance between Shari and mizusui, i.g., the deadwood and living portion of the trunk is an important feature to observe.


Cascading bonsai style in which the branches hang below the tree’s base. When the branch tip hangs below the rim but not below the base of the pot, it is known as the hankengai, or semi-cascade, style. These styles imitate a tree in nature that grows clutching to a precipitous cliff, expressing the innate strength of a tree’s vitality and the severity of nature.


A style of bonsai in which the trunk draws gentle curves as it grows upwards. Ideally, the tachiagari and the apex of the tree should be linked vertically. Moyogi is the common style of bonsai, and is suitable for almost any variety of tree.


A tree shape where the roots are exposed and sit above the surface of the soil, designed so as to appear as if they are a part of the trunk.


Slanting trunk. A bonsai style in which the trunk grows up on a diagonal, leaning either to the right or left.


A style of bonsai in which two trunks grow from one set of roots. The taller and ticker of the two trunks is the parent trunk, and the thinner and shorter, the child trunk. The harmony between the tall and short or thick and thin etc. qualities of the two trunks is important.