Esprit Bonsai International – August 2019

(Nancy Kaufman) #1
for beginners

#101 EspritBonsaiInternational - 27


he cascade style – kengai
in Japanese – demands
greater shaping skills than
the other styles. It represents diffi-
cult natural conditions where a tree
is leaning out over the edge of a cliff
or gorge. The direction of the trunk
is a result of the weight of the foliage,
snow and events of nature.
In this style, an imaginary line
between the base of the trunk and
the tip of the lower foliage varies
between 30 and 90 degrees from
the horizontal. The line begins under
the horizon line and terminates
under the level of the pot’s base,
although the latter is not obligatory.
The visual impact is strongly direc-
ted downwards. The crown is not
necessarily positioned lower than
the base of the pot.

An upside-down
This style is encountered more
frequently in Chinese bonsai than in
Japanese bonsai, where it is less sty-
lised: the latter have multiple foliage
pads, which can be freer in form and
less angular in movement.
A cascade bonsai can be envi-
saged as an inverted formal upright,
the initial part of which has been tur-
ned between 45 and 90 degrees
and bent back the other way. The
rear branch is positioned to the side
or slightly towards the front.
The trunk starts out vertical, far
enough to get past the rim of the
pot to create a cascade. If it tou-
ched the rim, the cascade would
look weak and unstable. The trunk’s
first bend must be at the narrowest
angle possible to express the drama
of the style.


cascade style

Author: Antonio Ricchiari

The cascade style represents a tree that has come from a challenging
setting, in the mountains, near a gorge. Pine, Mario Pavone collection.

The angle formed
between the horizontal
and the line that goes
from the apex to the
base of the pot varies
from 30 to 90 degrees.

Before the first bend, the trunk is
directed slightly backwards, to give
a wonderful sense of depth.

The Chinese style
In the Chinese cascade style, the
angles of the curves are clean and
sharp, which gives a dramatic effect.
Angles can be created on all parts of
the trunk, and the main branches
will be situated on the outer sides of
curves. It is essential to use existing

branches to form and create the
trunk’s angles.
The distances between the
angles are also varied, reducing in
length towards the lower foliage
pads. These foliage pads cannot all
be constructed on the same level,
as the tree would then lack depth
and movement.
The parts that come together
to constitute a dominant line are
important for the Chinese. 
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