Bonsai size

Large Beech Bonsai
Large Beech Bonsai

Bonsai can be found in several size classes. Contrary to common believe, bonsai are not all supersmall. Actually, a whole category of bonsai is devoted to trees of over a meter, and often several metres tall, the garden bonsai.

Traditionally, the size of bonsai were measured in hands. That is, the number of hands needed to carry the tree. So we have Shohin (One hand), Chiu (Two-Handed) Dai (4 or more). The shohin themselves also know subclasses.

From small to large, the following sizes are recognized:

Shito is the smallest bonsai type recognized. It typically is smaller than 6 cm. As the plants are very small, only a few branches can be created and ramnification is absent.

Mame measures about 6 to 20 cm. Here we see better branch development, and finer ramnification, but compared to Shohin we see a clear difference in branch structure.


Very small trees are about 15 to 25cm. Pictures of trees in this class are easily mistaken for their larger counterparts when no measurements are given.

Small trees arethose trees that don’t quite fit the shohin category but are on the small side of regular bonsai. They fit into the 25-35cm size range.

Medium sized treeshas trees that are the most common in most collections. They measure 30-45cm. The Japanese classify these as Katade-mochi.

Medium-large trees measures 35-60cm. Due to the overlap in size with the medium, they also fit into the Japanese category of Katade-mochi.


Large. This group measures 60-90cm.


Very large. This category has trees of 75-120cm.

Imperial. This is the largest class of bonsai. Trees are greater than 120cm and require three or more people to move them.Not many non-japanese have trees of this size.

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