Enjoy our Bonsai shaping information. Find out the type of Bonsai shapes to best suit you!

Bonsai shaping and styles will largely depend on the type of Bonsai you have chosen to work with!

As we explained in our Bonsai History section, Bonsai has it's roots (excuse the pun!) in china.

For centuries the Japanese simply imitated Chinese Bonsai and it wasn't until the 20th Century that a distinct Japanese style emerged.

In the last 40 years, with an increase in Bonsai popularity, Bonsai shaping techniques have become culturally specific and many countries are now thought to have their own styles. There are European styles, American styles, Australian styles etc. The list goes on…..

Whilst the emergence of specific styles continues, Japanese and Chinese styles are still the most desired. Chinese styles are ornamental whilst Japanese styles are simple and clean. Both styles are commercially popular. In the world of Bonsai, the term style can either describe a tree's ethnicity or a tree's physical attributes, including trunk and direction of lean.

Japanese Bonsai enthusiasts associate the term with physical attributes, and the term generally describes a genre of Bonsai.

When we refer to style, we are basically explaining the way a tree looks, and it's features. Style will depend on the type of Bonsai tree and the the shaping it has undergone. So lets start with a few common Bonsai shaping questions……..

Q. How do we achieve shapes and styles?

A. Pruning and Wiring!

Q. Is one general style better than another?

A. Not at all. Each style of Bonsai will depend on the type of Bonsai you have selected, the local culture, and the observer's taste. For example, In China, Japanese styling is not so popular.

Q. Are some shapes better than others?

A. No. There are however varied types of styling that are more popular in certain periods of time. At present styling including driftwood features are quite 'trendy'.

Q. Are some shapes rarer than others?

A. Styles such as cascade, root over rock and raft styles are much harder to create. Nurseries that sell these types of Bonsai charge high prices and they can be very hard to maintain.

Q. How do i know if my Bonsai style is 'real'?

A. If you have purchased a styled Bonsai then this tree will reflect the artist's taste and direction. Most styles at nurseries will be generic and you will know from reading our guides if the tree is 'authentic'.

Lets have a look at some popular styles…..

Formal Upright


Informal Upright

Informal 2
Informal 1







Semi-Cascade Semi Cascade

Literati (Bunjin)




Planted On Rock


Root Over Rock

root over rock





Exposed Root

Exposed Roots

Twin Trunk

Twin Trunk

Forest/Group Planting Forest

Leave Bonsai Shaping and head back to Our 'How to' guide!