"JAPANESE SUMO WARRIOR"
(SHORT & STOUT)

                Think of a Japanese sumo champion at the peak of his career. He's an intimidating picture of health, strength, and agility. The Japanese also require their champions to exhibit courage and humility. Large trunked bonsai are impressive and some Japanese bonsai trainers believe that a bonsai with height to trunk diameter ratio of 6:1 (or stouter) is ideal.

                Stout trees are created when a natural catastrophe causes a tree to severely die-back. Regrowth starts from the small surviving portion of the trunk near the roots. The dead portion of the tree rots and falls away, leaving a deadwood scar. Near the timberline this die-back and regrowth cycle may repeat many times and over hundreds of years, short intensely knarled specimens are formed. When successfully collected and refined, these become extraordinary bonsai specimens!

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                This Dwarf Prostrate Juniper has been in training from a cutting rooted about 1974.  It is 10" tall with a 2" trunk diameter for a very stout 5:1 height to trunk thickness ratio. The longest branch is 10" long.  It was grown under accelerated growth conditions in a large nursery container. About 1980, over 90% of the tree was cut away just above the lowest branch. A stub remains. A new branch became the new apex and in swinging away from the lowest branch, a dynamic design was created.

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               A close-up view of the trunk shows that most of the original tree was removed to leave just a short stout trunk. The new apex was just a small branch and this forms the top half of the current tree.  I would be possible to again greatly reduce the height of the tree. If just the lowest branch remains, a low cascading bonsai is possible. If most of the new top half was removed, a very dramatic trunk line and a new apex would be created. Such a bonsai could be only 6" tall and with the 2" thick trunk would have an extremely stout 3:1 height to trunk thickness ratio. 

                If a natural full-size tree had such proportions, it would be grotesques and unnatural. But bonsai is not a perfect accurate replica of natural trees.  Even at the "ideal 6:1 ratio" such a natural tree would appear very unnatural. It's important to point out that bonsai are interpretations. 

                In nature a 30' tall tree could have a trunk less than 1' in diameter. A bonsai having the same 30:1 ratio would appear very skimpy.  A natural tree may have 20 or more major branches. A bonsai interpretation of that tree may have only 5 or 6 branches.  Bonsai are interpretations and exaggerations are often very effective in creating impressive specimens.  The techniques to train the thinnest tall trees or the stoutest short trees are just tools. With these tools, you can create unlimited forms that could be thin or stout, or short or tall!

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www.fukubonsai.com   Fuku-Bonsai Inc.    Phone (808) 982-9880   (Januass ratio. 

                If a natural full-size tree had such proportions, it would be grotesques and unnatural. But bonsai is not a perfect accurate replica of natural trees.  Even at the "ideal 6:1 ratio" such a natural tree would appear very unnatural. It's important to point out that bonsai are interpretations. 

                In nature a 30' tall tree could have a trunk less than 1' in diameter. A bonsai having the same 30:1 ratio would appear very skimpy.  A natural tree may have 20 or more major branches. A bonsai interpretation of that tree may have only 5 or 6 branches.  Bonsai are interpretations and exaggerations are often very effective in creating impressive specimens.  The techniques to train the thinnest tall trees or the stoutest short trees are just tools. With these tools, you can create unlimited forms that could be thin or stout, or short or tall!

*** Return to index   *** Continue to next section    *** Go to mail-order
www.fukubonsai.com   Fuku-Bonsai Inc.    Phone (808) 982-9880   (January 2001)