Shohin Itoigawa juniper—

This little juniper was imported some years back through Brussel’s Bonsai. Itoigawa can grow for years with juvenile foliage before gaining the metabolic confidence to grow scale foliage again. Don’t cut too hard on them! And always leave lots of tip growth.

This client’s tree was fun to work on. Hope you enjoy the photos—

About 8" high before work began

View of the trunk. This tree was grown from a cutting and the trunk was wired when very young

After work. The shari was cleaned and a lime sulfur / water solution of 1:5 was applied. I like weaker dilutions for old shari so it does not look so harshly white.


  1. Very nice styling! Like it a lot…

  2. Peter Chapman says:

    Very nice, Michael! I love how the foliage compliments the movement in the trunk. Great balance. And how did they get such incredible nebari in a juniper?

  3. Very nice work, Michael. I always consider it an accomplishment when a shohin bonsai, styled, looks as though it could be a 90cm specimen. The material was superb, but you simply do nice work. Good on ya.

  4. Sen says:

    The trunk is interesting-like the curves.

  5. kinohitto says:

    The tree looks very nice. Good proportion and balance after the styling.

    I am looking forward to see how this tree progresses…

  6. Daniel Dolan says:


    Dan Dolan…..Chicago….Midwest Bonsai Society, we met last year.
    Always enjoys your Blog….beautiful tree.
    What does “leave a lot of tip growth” mean? I recall during your refinement presentation in Chicago in 2010 you commented on pinching Shimpaku Junipers. I thought I recalled you saying that it does not really encourage back budding as we are often told with almost any tree. Does this mean you don’t pinch those tips?

    Having the most difficulty sorting out how much to “thin” Shimpaku foliage prior to wiring. When I look at the dense “clouds” of foliage in the great Japanese trees…..they don’t seem open enough to let any light in at all.

    Or is it just a matter of timing and they are not always kept like this?

    Bonsai is not hard……listening to 15 people teach you Bonsai is hard.

    Best regards,


    • crataegus says:

      Tricky as ever to explain with words what one does on a tree, but I’m game!

      I may have caused some confusion about ‘tip growth’. I’ll try to explain.

      The danger on scale junipers is pinching every live tip. That will weaken it. We’ll use shimpaku as our basic scale juniper to talk about. The best technique is to pinch or cut with scissors the more vigorous shoots that are growing outside of a foliage pad, or cloud. These are the ones that take off and will grow a branch if you let them. Behind them are the slowly growing shoots that form that soft pad. On normally growing trees the rapidly elongating shoots will need to be cut a couple times a year. The removal of these shoots—which might be anything from 1/2″ to 2″ long and may be numbering a few to ten per foliage pad—will redistribute the energy of the tree so it grows slowly and consistently around the tree. Eventually, the juniper will need to be restyled, as it will outgrow it’s form, so to speak. But pinching every last growing tip is the worst thing to do to a juniper. Only the strong ones that go charging off are the ones you cut or pinch.

      There is a lot of talk about letting light in on trees in the US, but the fact is the vast majority of US trees are thin, and not full enough. And on a juniper you are not cutting back to a small interior shoot within the pad anyhow, you cut the branch shorter to an already developed area when you restyle it.

      The thinning that you do is the interior shoots that are no longer growing. They may be green, and still be alive, but if you look really closely the tip is not active any more. It will soon turn yellow and fall off. These are the ones you take off to thin the tree periodically, but usually only when they are yellowing, and you may take them off when still green to prep the tree for wiring. You use the strong healthy growth at the ends of the branches to style a juniper with. That’s what you leave. Don’t be too aggressive. If you leave enough of that healthy end growth, in the strong areas then you can also tip the strong shoots as I wrote about above, which is the refinement technique. Take out the strongly growing shoots that form at the ends of the branches.

      Taking that shoot off is usually summer work.

      I know it is frustrating to listen to many different voices. Trust your gut.

  7. Daniel Dolan says:


    Thank you very much for your very detailed response. I understand much better what you stated previously. Andy Rutledge’s comment expressed precisely my own feeling…..the detail that you have imparted to this tree bestows a sense of scale that is shared with larger, grander specimens.

    Best regards,


  8. bob says:

    You said that this tree was wired from a young age. Was the wire left on the tree and allow to scar it to help creat the shari or was it removed and then the shari created? I have read alot of things related to the twisting of shimpaku but nothing about the creation of the sharis??

    • crataegus says:

      This tree was originally imported and I really can’t be sure how that shari was created. It is common, though, to leave the wire in and then remove the living tissue to create sharies of this nature.

  9. montymoo12 says:

    WOW what a beautiful tree.

  1. […] Itoigawa juniper by Michael Hagedorn. Michael is one of our favorite American bonsai artists. If you haven’t visited his site (Crataegus Bonsai) this is as good a time as any. BTW: Michael is the author of  Post-Dated – The Schooling of an Irreverent Bonsai Monk a fascinating read, bonsai or otherwise. […]

  2. […] Itoigawa juniper by Michael Hagedorn. Michael is one of our favorite American bonsai artists. If you haven’t visited his site (Crataegus Bonsai) this is as good a time as any. BTW: Michael is the author of Post-Dated – The Schooling of an Irreverent Bonsai Monk a fascinating read, bonsai or otherwise. […]

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