It's All Mr. Yoshimura's Fault
Page 5 of 5

Author:  Hector Johnson [ Sun Mar 26, 2006 8:25 pm ]
Post subject: 

I hate the fact that I have many pots that are too small for my trees.
It is deceptive; just how much room a root system needs. Thene there's the swag of pots i bought before I knew what sort of pots I should have bought. Anyone want some sexy, glazed pots?

Author:  Jose Marrero [ Thu Apr 20, 2006 2:53 pm ]
Post subject: 

I read this thread (maybe too fast). Blame Will for showing me the way to this forum! I love debates!
Well, I am new in bonsai. But I feel Yoshimura's contribution helped establish in writing a tradition that according to him in was the way the bonsai training was given in Japan. His 1957 book is a good guide in information for the beginner of the art.
He never expected his work to become a frame to limit the art, but the starting point of it. I agree to the statement that Yoshimura will be proud how much debate and development his work did for the knowledge of Bonsai.
I will like to know of anyone trained in Japan saying that in Japan they train you in Bonsai differently! I have read books from several authors from different countries and they teach the same basic rules in design, wiring, soil, the same names for the different styles, pot selection.
In the past and present artists developed tendencies and trends that are named mostly not by them but by others. So the impressionism, the cubism, the abstract have well defined characteristics you can learn to recognize. Since I only have a scratch of knowledge in the subject, I will stay in shallow waters happy of getting my feet wet, thank you very much.
My point here is that I read in the forums about the Chinese style, the traditional style, the American Style. The question was thrown as a gauntlet and still waits to be pick up!
What is the American Style? What is the European Style? What is the Traditional Style? Are they distinct styles? If not, then ... Why we have or want to create the idea they are distint styles?

Author:  Attila Soos [ Thu Apr 20, 2006 3:26 pm ]
Post subject: 

Styles are an inevitable part of any art form. They can be the result of a cultural tradition, in which case a large group of people is practicing it from that particular culture. They can develop within a smaller group of people (such as a "school") with similar views. A style can also be developed by an individual, and practiced by that individual only (personal style), based on the person's views and taste.
Simply put, the way I see and practice bonsai is different from the way you do it. So, my bonsai will be different from yours. And my taste and my views on bonsai don't change from one day to another. Which means, that as I become more experienced and versatile in creating bonsai, one can recognize certain recurring patterns in my trees. It can be the shape of branches, the overall shape of the crown, the way I prune my trees, my carving, etc.
These differences from one style to another can be very subtle, recognizable only to those who have seen and studied bonsai from various sources and countries.
Since bonsai originates from the Far East, and is relatively new to the West, it is still heavily influenced by a few original traditions. Therefore, the number of recognizable styles is much more limited compared to other art forms. Nevertheless, you can't escape from the concept of style simply because humans do things in a certain way, and within a group, its members tend to follow each other. Style is part of being human.
Some people of course don't care about this concept. They say they are trying to create good bonsai and that's all. Nothing wrong with this view, and one can create great bonsai without being aware of belonging to any style. But since they are human, they will inevitably follow a certain pattern in the creative process, which, of course, leads us back to the concept of style...

Author:  Attila Soos [ Thu Apr 20, 2006 3:48 pm ]
Post subject: 

As to what is American Style, European Style, ect. , that's a whole jungle to itself.
I don't believe that there is such a thing as American style. To be able to determine that there is such a thing, you have to select a number of leading American artists, look at their trees, and see if you can find a common pattern that makes their tree in some way unique, when compared to other countries. I don't think that you will find such a pattern.
But I believe that there are certain local styles within the US, revolving around recognized bonsai teachers and clubs. You can do the same analysis with Europe.
In China, where bonsai is practiced for centuries, there are a number of distinct styles or "schools". You can see that for yourself if you read Robert Baran's bonsai history at

Author:  Ron Sudiono [ Thu May 25, 2006 6:54 am ]
Post subject:  Yoshimura thread

I?ve not read all the threads here, but rather jumped in with my own vision about styles and rules:
Here we come to the point that bonsai styling and appriciations is truely related to human nature. Like trees, the humankind is divided, by men. A specific style like national style will be a bless and a curse, too, just like rules are a bless for the novice, and a curse if we use it for judging bonsai, which is, in fact judging people. How can we judge somebody else?s preferences in something they created ?
It depens how everybody approach a national or personal style. It can divide us more and more, but it can be usefull for our pride and ego.

Author:  Attila Soos [ Thu May 25, 2006 10:36 am ]
Post subject: 

Great comments. I really enjoyed reading your thoughts on this.

Author:  Gary Swiech [ Sun Dec 31, 2006 4:50 pm ]
Post subject: 

Interesting discussion.
Yuji Yoshimura's book "The Japanese Art of Miniature trees and Landscapes, Their Creation, Care and Enjoyment". does just what it says in it's title.
I cut my teeth on this book and have 2 copies because the hardcover, second edition was in taters and the pages were falling out.
I remember the first time I read Chapter 4, which deals with training but also intoduces the reader the the 5 basic styles used in training Japanese bonsai.
It started my thinking off in the right direction. At least some direction that made sense, a starting point.
Over the years my thinking has changed as have my bonsai.
I'm of the opinion that it was a pivital book which I learned the basics from along with "Bonsai, Miniture Potted Trees," by Kyuzo Murata.
As Ringo Starr once said," Books are good, you can learn things from them".
Along the way, I have seen bonsai that have taught me along with those which have inspired me. I have met bonsai enthusiasts and bonsai professionals that have done the same. In the end, I have learned that you take what you need and you leave the rest behind. What do you get?
You end up with a collection of bonsai which you live with and
for better of for worse, depending on your skill level, understanding of what you want to express in your own trees and the time you allow for their training.
Beyond that, what more can you expect?
Is there an American, German, Italian, Japanese, Chinese or any other national style of Bonsai in the 21st century?
I don't know with 100% certainty, but I think not. Individual style seems to be the way we are going. I think those who have come before us and those who around today, are looking for their own style. It's fun finding your style and it changes.
The basics are still very important to learn in the begining, and I think that will always hold true except for those on the fringe.
May your plants flourish in the coming new year!

Page 5 of 5 All times are UTC - 5 hours [ DST ]
Powered by phpBB © 2000, 2002, 2005, 2007 phpBB Group