Itowigawa Juniper 001

This small Shohin size juniper was purchased from Ed Clark in 2016. The tree had a nice twist to it due to the wire Ed applied early in it’s growth period. The trees were grown from cuttings and the wire applied and grown out in one gallon containers.

This is the plant I decided to go with. It had some twisting and a nice kink in the trunk that I thought I could make use of. It is very important to look for material that is interesting and has some movement. Exaggerated Movement is even better, because as the plant grows that kind of movement will often soften and become less pronounced. It will still be there but not so much in your face. On junipers this is important to look for things that do not actually fit the ideal form. these are the kinds of things that can incorporated into jins to make the tree active. This tree had that exactly by the branch I am holding. This will not be part of the design , but I can strip this and jin the whole branch and add dynamism to the design.

I began removing foliage and started to strip the branch I would not need. removing the bark during the spring push is easy since the bark is floating on a layer of sap and it just peels right off clean and without much effort. Anyone that has tried to remove bark from an old dead branch will appreciate how easy this is when the branch is green.


The beginnings of the first wire since purchase can start now. Ed applied wire, but was only for setting of the trunk line. Now it will be up to me to set the branch line. aluminum wire is used since the tree is small and the wire is much easier to apply in tight places.

The finished Product for the first styling process. Many of these branches that are styled now will be reduced later as I set the main direction but they will elongate and become too long for the style.


It’s a year later and now the tree is ready for a haircut and investigating the branches.

Branches are cleaned up and checked for wire biting in. Most of the old wire is removed now and being readied for the application of new wire to set the new design.

Thinning and removal of old brown needles and pruning of overly long branches is complete. The application of the new wire will start now. I will wire from the bottom up

Some of the branches from the initial styling are turned to jin to help convey the image that the overall tree has seen the same weather. Snow, or wind, grazing deer, not sure but having only a small cluster of jin outside the tree with no other jin is not cohesive to the design. A small turnbuckle is applied to the jin to allow the green wood to harden in the direction best suited to the design. A large branch not needed on the right is totally stripped as jin really inforcing the damage on that side of the tree.

The wire is now complete and the branches have been compacted and set into position. With the jins on the right side, it allows a view into the interior of the tree and full view of the question mark shaped trunk. It allows one to follow it up to the apex. Lots of visual speed with this one.

The tree this year is ready for a pot. I had this Grog styled pot by Bunzan that was in my collection, but never really had a tree that had enough presence to pull off the exposed grog in the pot. This one works perfectly for this busy pot. It also fit good and the tree did not overpower the smallness of the pot.

This is a very small composition being only 6 inches tall from pot to apex.

Posted May 1, 2019 by California Bonsai Art

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