Rough Guide to Shohin Sizes

We are often asked what actually are the dimensions for the various sizes of small bonsai, so we thought we’d put together this little rough reference guide which the BSB uses when describing tree categories.

But the first thing to take heed of is that not even the Japanese have formal criteria for sizing, preferring to have broader classifications which show organisers and or judges will implement at the various exhibitions.

Here are the broad categories we use which is more or less the same as that used by the All Japan Shohin-bonsai Association:

Mame or mini bonsai:   up to 10cm / 4 inches.
Shohin:    between 10cm / 4 inches and 20cm / 8 inches
Kifu:         over 20cm, / 8 inch to around 25-35cm / 10-14 inches
Chuhin:   the so-called middle size bonsai up to a maximum 45cm / 18 inches

Add also to this the category of Bunjin that the All Japan Shohin-bonsai Association uses wherein the trees can be as high as 70-80 cm / 27-32 inches. This would be perfectly acceptable as a shohin as long as it gave the appearance of being small – e.g. having very few branches or only a little mass of leaf.

But please don’t rush out with your tape measure to see what category your trees are in. The bottom line is that it is as much down to aesthetics and feel as it is to centimetres and inches. It’s a case of if it looks and feels like a shohin, then it is a shohin.


You may also like to read the expanded article written by Mark which can be found here:
And  just to bring the tone down again, I will also be putting up a blog post about this topic in the next day or so.

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