The Windswept style

The windswept style or fukinagashi is quite an unusual style that is not so frequently seen in exhibitions due to its complexity. In this style, the entire tree is somewhat slanted, and the branches and twigs often veer to one side as if they are being blown by a strong gust of wind. It’s one of the hardest styles to train a bonsai tree in, and takes time to achieve. The windswept style is mainly similar to the slanting style expect for the branching pattern, direction and appearance.

Normally confined to trees growing in an exposed environment, windswept miniature trees (yamadori) are frequently seen on exposed mountain crests, ridges and coastal areas. The branches tend to slant to a certain side and appear to be confined to a certain direction. These make quite ideal specimens to start training a full fledged windswept styled bonsai tree.

There are 2 schools of thought on this, one being that the branches should be all facing away from the wind (allowing for a dramatic effect), and the other being that some branches can be allowed to grow facing into the wind’s direction. Both are acceptable versions of windswept styling, as there is no rule that states that branches cannot grow into the wind!

windswept-trees.jpgThe way the windswept tree occurs in nature, is frequently a result of bud damage due to cold seasonal winds on the exposed side, and at other times a result of years and years of continuous wind blowing in one direction, which breaks off delicate twigs and buds on one side, whilst permitting growth on the other. After a while, a windswept looking tree results.

The usual steps in styling a windswept style bonsai is to choose a good starter specimen that has a sturdy trunk to begin with, more growth on one side, and relatively sparse branches. The position of the tree needs to be “off center”, with the branches pointing into the space left behind. The branches facing into the wind need to be removed, and only the chosen branches that face away from the wind will be kept, at the same time being vigorously pruned of foliage from their undersides.

When styling a windswept bonsai, try to avoid too much Jin (deadwood) as that makes the composition look somewhat modified. Many types of species can be used for the windswept style, but one of the best is the Privet (Ligustrum Sinesis).