If you are a bonsai lover, it is very likely that you know many species, that you know the ins and outs of how many of them are cared for, or that you have even experimented with making one yourself. But, Do you know the tanuki bonsai technique? Know what it is?
It is a type of decoration that is increasingly fashionable and that is beginning to attract the attention of lovers of these miniature trees. But what does it consist of? How do you do it? How much they cost? If you ask yourself all that, then we give you the answer.
What is a tanuki bonsai
A tanuki bonsai does not mean a kind of bonsai. Nor a size (which, as you know, there are different names depending on the height of these). We talk about a shaping technique used to model a tree in which a living tree is mixed with the bark of a dead one at the same timesomething similar to Ying and Yang, or Jin and Shari.
The objective is to make the plant see itself as one, making the trunk thicker, having knobby parts and others from which the live bonsai stands out. Of course, you must understand that they cannot be “mimicked” because we are really talking about a living element and another dead one. But as the living one develops, it is achieved that the fusion becomes so realistic that it is difficult to realize if the tree has been formed through another or if it has really been that way throughout life.
The origin of calling it tanuki
Now that you know what tanuki bonsai is, you may wonder why it was called this way and not another. In fact its origin is remote from mythology. In Japan, a tanuki is what Nyctereutes procyonoides is called, or what is the same, when japanese raccoon dog. It is said that this animal has the ability to transform into whatever it wants, being very mischievous and playful and taking advantage of that ability to confuse travelers, to create illusions, etc.
Therefore, relating it to this animal, they began to call this type of bonsai the tanuki bonsai, because created the illusion of seeing another type of tree and not the one that was actually. Or what is the same, they use that name with the idea that one thing can be transformed into another (like dead wood in a resurrected tree).
What are the best bonsai to do the tanuki technique
You should know that not all bonsai species They are used to apply the tanuki technique because they do not adhere well enough to the wood and do not blend in completely. However, there is one that does adapt very well: junipers. Among them, the Shimpaku is one of the best specimens to use.
Does that mean that you will only find junipers? For sale it is very likely that it is, because although there are cases of other species to which the tanuki bonsai technique has been applied, the truth is that they are very rare and only for experienced people. The bonsai must be young, since if it is already “adult” it will be much more difficult to mold or to fuse with the dead wood (take into account that you will have to bend branches or even the trunk itself to blend in with the wood).
As for the woodThe truth is that it can be of any type, although it is always recommended that it be firm and resist moisture.
How to make a tanuki bonsai
First of all, you should know that carrying out the tanuki bonsai technique is not easy at all. In fact, only a few experienced professionals carry it out. Therefore, if you still want to try, the steps you must take are the following:
Prepare dead wood
Before using it, it is necessary put it in water with bleach. It must be in it for at least 24 hours and it is done to eliminate any type of fungus or insect that may be present. Next, you have to always dry it in the sun for a couple of days and, finally, apply the jin’s liquid, which is responsible for whitening the wood but also protecting it against rotting or attack by fungi and bacteria. Once you apply it, it will have to spend other days drying to be ready to use it.
Prepare the living tree
The next step is select the item to be used. It must be young, moldable and not yet fully developed. It is better to start the technique in the autumn-winter months, because that is when the temperature is cooler and less stress is generated in the trees, although it will have it (be prepared in case you see that some twigs fall off).
Have tools at hand such as self-drilling screws, wires, scissors, gouges …
Make the gutter
The gutter is a hole that must be made in the dead wood to be able to insert the trunk of the living tree into it. Something like putting the living inside the dead wood. For this, it is not necessary that it be very deep, only what is necessary so that the trunk of the bonsai can be inserted well and thus blend in.
For this, the gouge is used as well as other tools that allow you to work with wood.
The last step is the most complicated, and involves joining the bonsai with the dead wood. To do this, sometimes you will have to force the trunk, taking care that it does not break, and fix it with self-drilling screws, wires, cable ties, etc. so that it is well attached.
It is possible that some branches are lost in the process, but try to leave the essential ones.
Finally, and after this stressful situation, it is normal for the tree to be more sensitive, so it will require you to be aware to see if it survives or not.
How much does a tanuki bonsai cost
We are not going to lie to you. A tanuki bonsai costs a lot. Depending on how big it is, the higher the price of this will be. And it is that two factors influence it:
Junipers are slow-growing trees. Therefore, when they are put up for sale and seem one with the dead wood, it is because many years have passed.
It is a advanced technique, which means that only experts know how to carry it out with positive results. In addition, it requires time, not only to join the dead wood with the tree, but to maintain it, to see how the tree reacts, so that it does not die, etc.
These are the reasons why they are not exactly cheap, and you also have to provide care that is more specific than other species of bonsai. But there is no doubt that, visually, it draws a lot of attention.
Have you seen any tanuki bonsai? Can you tell us if you consider it bonsai and what do you think?