Windswept Bonsai Style (fukinagashi)

Windswept bonsai tree azalea in a brown pot.
Windswept bonsai style – fukinagashi.
Image attribution: Cliff from Arlington, Virginia, USA, CC BY 2.0, via Wikimedia Commons.

The windswept bonsai style (fukinagashi) is one of the most dramatic bonsai styles, but also one of the hardest to achieve. It is quite a rare style that is not often seen due to the time and skill that are required to produce it.

Form

In this style, the whole tree is somewhat slanted, with the branches and twigs often leaning to one side as if they have perhaps been continuously exposed to strong continuous winds from one direction.

The overall effect gives a directional appearance, that is sometimes used to direct one’s eye to another detail in a Japanese garden.

Windswept trees in nature often take on this form due to bud damage from cold seasonal winds on the exposed side, and/or as a result of years of almost prevailing winds blowing in one direction, which breaks off delicate twigs and buds on one side, whilst encouraging growth in the direction the wind is blowing.

Naturally occurring windswept miniature trees can sometimes be found in exposed environments such as on mountain crests, ridges or coastal areas.

The windswept style is somewhat similar to the slanting style expect for the branching pattern, direction and appearance.

There are actually two accepted versions of of this bonsai style:

  1. All the branches facing away from the wind. This gives a very dramatic effect; and
  2. Most branches facing away from the wind, but some branches can be allowed to grow facing into the wind’s direction. This gives a more natural effect.

How to style a windswept bonsai

If you want to cultivate a windswept style bonsai, choose a good starter tree that has a sturdy trunk to begin with, more growth on one side, and relatively sparse branches.

The position of the trunk needs to be “off center”, with the branches pointing into the empty space. Any branches facing into the ‘wind direction’ need to be removed.

The branches facing away from the wind direction will be kept, and the leaves on their (‘exposed’) undersides are usually removed.

Best trees for windswept bonsai style

Many types of species can be used for the windswept style.

Using an evergreen species will often result in a more dramatic effect. Deciduous trees can also be used, but the effect of this style will be less dramatic due to the leaves pointing in different directions.

  • For an evergreen species, try juniper.
  • For a deciduous species privet is a good choice.

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