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Welcome to Bonsai Tree Care! Information, advice and tutorials for Bonsai Enthusiasts, By Bonsai Enthusiasts

Japanese Bonsai Terminology Explained

Here Peter talks us through some of the most commonly used bonsai terms and their meanings. In the video Peter Covers common terms you may have heard used frequently by fellow bonsai growers such as ‘shari’, ‘jin’ and ‘tanuki’. We take a look at examples of these terms on real Bonsai trees grown by Peter at the Herons nursery.

Types of bonsai and trees discussed in the video:

• Juniper Bonsai (Juniperus Sabina, Juniperus Rigida & Juniperus Chinensis)
• Japanese Maple Bonsai
• Scotts Pine
• Japanese Garden Tree

Japanese Bonsai Glossary


Sharis are white/grey deadwood found on tree trunk. Sharis can be naturally occurring or made to enhance a bonsais character


A ‘jin’ is a deadwood branch. Jins can be artificially made to give a bonsai character, or found in nature. Jins are created by cutting branches and stripping away their bark.


Yamadori simply translates to ‘collected for the mountains’. This term refers to dramatically styled bonsai trees with particularly interesting trunk and branch formations. Trees with this styling can be found naturally in the Japanese mountains, hence the term yamadori.


In Japan the term Tanuki means two things. The first is a name given to the loveable, Japanese racoon dog. Whilst the Japanese racoon dog is a real animal, the Tanuki is also a mythical creature. Tanukis are known for their cheeky, mischievous nature and adorable appearance.

The second use of the term Tanuki is to describe skilful, artificial amendments made to a bonsai which have been designed to appear authentic and natural.


Nebari is a term used to refer to the surface root spread of a bonsai. Roots play a large part in bonsai design and a well styled Nebari can make all the difference to a bonsais appearance.


This word simply translates to ‘garden tree’. Japanese landscape artists may use this word when discussing the placement of Japanese garden trees.

Overwintering Bonsai

During the colder seasons it’s important to protect your bonsai trees from harsh conditions. Peter shows us some of the incredibly successful techniques he uses on the nursery to keep his bonsais protected. Peter discusses the various methods of bonsai protection he uses during winter at the nursery, and how you can practice such methods at home. Peter also show us the best types of bonsai pots to use during winter and how you can take precautions to protect your pots from cracking or splitting.

Types of bonsai and trees discussed in the video:

• Satsuki Azalea
• Trident Maple
• Juniper (Juniperus Rigidas & juniperus Itoigawa)
• Japanese Maple
• Japanese White Pine
• Japanese Holly
• Olive tree
• English Yew
• Korean Hornbeam
• Pyracantha
View the full video below or visit our main website for a full transcription.