Chapter 1 Just as every person has his or her own individuality and character, so every bonsai should have its own appearance and personality. Whereas no two people, however similar, are exactly alike, so too a bonsai has to differ from another in tiny details, in which it is possible to discern the handiwork of its creator.Although the great Japanese masters have frequently invited us in the West to create new forms, taking our inspiration from nature which surrounds us, it is nevertheless true that a tree is a tree all over the world and that the Japanese have run the full gamut of possible classes and styles. Familiarity with such styles is the basic stock-in-trade of every bonsaist. However, this does not imply that we should slavishly ape them, no matter how praiseworthy the originals, with endless and often futile repetitions, leaving no scope for creativity.The division into classes has been established on the basis of height, number of trees in a container, and number of trunks on the same tree. Height is always measured in a straight line from the upper rim of the pot to the apex of the tree, whatever its style or development. The only exceptions to this rule are the cascading and semi-cascading styles in which the tree is measured from the lower to the higher apex.The numerous styles envisage virtually every possible type of development of the tree in the container. If we took at the Japanese styles we recognize that they can all be fitted into a triangle or series of triangles. In practice I have always maintained that a tree manages to be convincingly beautiful only when it conforms to this geometrical shape. The rules of bonsai -- the quest for the triangular form and an odd number (except for the twin-trunk style) of trunks or plants in a pot -- show an interesting affinity with the beliefs of the pythagorean Greeks, back in the sixth century B.C. that the triangle was a sacred figure and that odd numbers were associated with perfection.There are five principal styles, even though others may justifiably be considered such. In the following list the Japanese names and their English equivalents are given.CHOKKANFormal uprightThis consists of a single upright plant with the apex perpendicular to the base of the trunk. The branches, balanced in threes (left-back-right or right-back-left) alternate symmetrically along the trunk and thin out towards the top. The first branch, which should be about one third of the total height, determines the position of the plant in the pot, placed on the side opposite to that in which this branch is pointing.MOYOGIInformal uprightAlthough not originally accepted by purists as a true and proper style, it has become increasingly popular, not only because there are numerous examples of it in nature but also because it allows greater freedom and less blind obedience to the rules, inasmuch as it combines the features of various styles. The apex is perpendicular to the base, as in the Chokkan style, but differs in the development of the trunk, which zigzags gently upwards. The branches stem from the outside of the curves and bend slightly downwards.SHAKANSlantingThe trunk is leaning, with the apex inclined at an angle of 45 to the base. The aerial development and Surface roots follow the line of the trunk; the first branch, however, grows in the opposite direction, balancing the plant. This branch, which should be positioned about one third of the way up the tree, is the important determining factor in the harmonious achievement of this style.HAN KENGAISemi-cascadeThe tree is planted opposite to the side over which it hangs down. The style provides for two apices, one on top, situated roughly above the bend in the main branch, the other below, at the limit of plant growth. The lower apex should never exceed the height of the pot. Sometimes vegetaGiorgi, Gianfranco is the author of 'Simon and Schuster's Guide to Bonsai' with ISBN 9780671734886 and ISBN 0671734881.