Bonsai Styles: Formal Upright – Chokkan
The style has a straight, upright, tapering trunk. Branches progress regularly from the thickest and broadest at the bottom to the finest and shortest at the top. A good way of remembering this rule is to look at the front of the tree and from; Left, Right, Back Branch. This is classic Japanese style. There should be strong surface roots visible, moving from the base of the trunk downward into the soil, and radiating evenly around the trunk (preferably with none pointing directly toward the viewer) to create a beautiful, inviting tree.
Advantages of Chokkan
Advantages of Chokkan style are a very appealing tree to the viewer. If done correctly formal upright style bonsai give us a very natural feeling, a feeling of being in a forest surrounded by large trees which have not had difficult conditions to grow in. Think of large pines in a valley or foothills, places where they have the ability to grow straight for the sun competing only within itself for light. This is what we see every year during Christmas time, very nice cone shaped trees with taper from bottom to top. A very comfortable inviting image, one we are very used to seeing here in the United States. When selecting a formal upright bonsai, you will want to find a tree that allows for visibility of at least one third to one quarter of the trunk, view of the taper is the focus.
Disadvantages of Chokkan
Disadvantages of this style are the ability to find materiel or create material that fits this criterion directly without being put into another category. It’s hard to create a perfectly tapering trunk with perfect branch placement and very difficult (if possible) to find one suitable for bonsai in nature. It takes lots of time and patience to achieve an attractive Chokkan style tree.
Many different species and trees make good formal upright bonsai plants. Any tree you would normally think of as a holiday tree or a tree that typically grows in a symmetrical pattern or style makes for a great formal upright style tree. Most trees that are pruned correctly and kept healthy, will conform to formal upright bonsai. Some examples of good trees to use when creating an Chokkan bonsai are;
- Maple (Acer sp.)
- Pines (Pinus sp.)
- Spruces (Picea sp.)
- Junipers (Juniperus sp.)
Unsuitable Above all, fruiting or naturally informal trees are not suitable for formal upright. Though you can create a formal upright tree with these they are more suited to Broom or informal styles:
- Cherry (Prunus sp.)
- Crab Apple (Malus sp.)
- Pyracantha (Pyracantha sp.)