Bonsai Study Group Forum

Species Specific => Shimpaku Juniper Bonsai Discussion => Topic started by: nathanbs on October 02, 2011, 04:10 PM

Title: i have a question???? Whats your opinion????
Post by: nathanbs on October 02, 2011, 04:10 PM
Why is it that here in North America we refer to a specific type of juniper as shimpaku? Shimpaku means juniper in Japanese, referring to all types of juniper. Its confusing to say the least. I think we should start referring to junipers by the varietal name, like kishu or itiogawa, just like we do with prostrata, california, rocky mountain, procumbens, etc.
If you went to Japan and said i want to buy shimpaku, they would look at you a little confused as thats such a broad description. It would be like going to a restaurant and saying i want beef steak. Whats your opinion?
Title: Re: i have a question???? Whats your opinion????
Post by: Owen Reich on October 02, 2011, 11:54 PM
Byakushim is the word for "Juniper" in Japan.  The word shim-paku us exclusively a bonsai term (shim meaning "trust, really, or true" and paku comes from "haku" which is a type of oak when the kanji is used alone.  When used with shim-, haku becomes paku referring to "shohaku" which is what all evergreens are called.  So, loosely translated, shimpaku means:  real or typical juniper.  It's a little gray.  I actually asked about the meaning a week or so ago.  In reference to the different types, Itoigawa Shimpaku (it's the name of a river; Itoi-Kawa) came almost exclusively from two mountains (Mt. Kurohime and Myojo) in Nigata Prefecture.  Kishu has a little more gray history; Eastern Mia Prefecture, Nara, and Wakayama Prefecture.  Kishu can be more blue or green.  Tohoku can be blue or green but usually blue with larger foliage and the foliage is usually switched for Itoigawa.   Hokkaido shimpaku is from Hokkaido Island and similar to Tohoku but with a little better foliage for bonsai and generally blue but I've heard the foliage color is influenced by pH, soil type, etc.  People here generally don't split hairs on the regional variety unless they are certain of a given bonsai's whole history.  The big division in bonsai here is if a shimpaku is Itoigawa or not as they are easier to spot and good Itoigawa foliage types have been isolated and propagated due to the ease in styling desirable pads.  That's what I just learned.
Title: Re: i have a question???? Whats your opinion????
Post by: nathanbs on October 03, 2011, 10:03 AM
Owen thanks for the info. I remember the first i read of this was when i read Bonsai techniques by John Naka and his descriptions with his pictures called junipers, shimpakus.  He would call a California Juniper something like Shimpaku California. I have several Japanese bonsai teachers and they always correct me when I call kishu shimpaku just by the name of shimpaku. They say just to refer to it as Kishu and stop using the word shimpaku.  ???
Title: Re: i have a question???? Whats your opinion????
Post by: AlexV on October 03, 2011, 12:33 PM
I think it is useful to use shimpaku, if only because all locality varietals are just minor variations on Juniperus chinensis var. Sargentii.  While they have slightly different foliage colors and growth habit, most of their properties related to care are relatively similar, such as water, soil, fertilizer, when to prune, when to style etc.  I think it is great to use the locality name when you know it, or if you specifically want the properties of one of the localities when shopping, but to insist everyone use the locality names, especially when most don't actually know the differences, seems extreme.  Hell, if I could get these midwesterners to stop calling junipers red cedars I would call it a win.

Alex
Title: Re: i have a question???? Whats your opinion????
Post by: nathanbs on October 03, 2011, 12:47 PM
I think it is useful to use shimpaku, if only because all locality varietals are just minor variations on Juniperus chinensis var. Sargentii.  While they have slightly different foliage colors and growth habit, most of their properties related to care are relatively similar, such as water, soil, fertilizer, when to prune, when to style etc.  I think it is great to use the locality name when you know it, or if you specifically want the properties of one of the localities when shopping, but to insist everyone use the locality names, especially when most don't actually know the differences, seems extreme.  Hell, if I could get these midwesterners to stop calling junipers red cedars I would call it a win.

Alex

Ok I see your point, baby steps. Fortunately i think in california we are one small step ahead of that.  However im not trying to insist on people to use the local varietal name i just think we should stop generalizing the name when we are only referring to one type of juniper.  It would be more appropriate to call it Chinensis or Sargentii than shimpaku.
Title: Re: i have a question???? Whats your opinion????
Post by: John Kirby on October 03, 2011, 06:32 PM
I think I will just call them Shimpaku.
Title: Re: i have a question???? Whats your opinion????
Post by: nathanbs on October 03, 2011, 06:58 PM
so what exactly are you referring to when you say shimpaku? ??? Califonia, procumbens nana, kishu, itoigawa, or other?
Title: Re: i have a question???? Whats your opinion????
Post by: John Kirby on October 04, 2011, 08:02 AM
Shimpaku is as Shimpaku does.
Title: Re: i have a question???? Whats your opinion????
Post by: nathanbs on October 04, 2011, 10:06 AM
ok fair enough. Lets call a horse a mammal instead of a horse
Title: Re: i have a question???? Whats your opinion????
Post by: MatsuBonsai on October 04, 2011, 10:25 AM
It sounds an awful lot like you're trying to confuse an issue where there is no confusion.  Aside from old literature that mislabeled other species, I think bonsai people all know what you are referring to when you say "shimpaku".

If you really want to spend time and energy on non-issue, more power to you.  I'm with Kirby.  Shimpaku is shimpaku.  My time is better spent on real issues.

Good luck in your quest.
Title: Re: i have a question???? Whats your opinion????
Post by: rockm on October 04, 2011, 10:30 AM
Unless you're dealing with a lot of Japanese juniper dealers, what's the point of being so precise with Japanese terminology?

The instructors are being a bit rigid. The terminology used in Japan is hardly precise biologically. It's tied to geographic locations, not species. Using local Japanese geography to define what we call a plant in North American circles is a bit convoluted.

Call it what you want...
Title: Re: i have a question???? Whats your opinion????
Post by: nathanbs on October 04, 2011, 12:15 PM
Look if this something that the bonsai community is set on for whatever reason, and like Matsu called it a non issue, Ill let it rest here.  I just wanted to #1 inform that something we have been doing for probably 2 1/2 decades is slightly wrong and misleading and #2 see if anyone was interested in correcting the generalization.  But it certainly appears that at least some of you on here are content with calling a specific species or 2 or 3 or even 4 of juniper by the broad name shimpaku, which literally just means juniper. I will carry on Nakas and few other American based bonsai artists teaching that shimpaku is Japanese for the genus juniper, not a species of juniper.  In years to come we will see other varietals of juniper from Japan in addition to Kishu and Itoigawa and it will only get more confusing when trying to discuss them.
Title: Re: i have a question???? Whats your opinion????
Post by: nathanbs on October 04, 2011, 12:19 PM
Matsu, to clarify are you saying Naka mislabeled the junipers in his text?
Title: Re: i have a question???? Whats your opinion????
Post by: John Kirby on October 04, 2011, 12:59 PM
Shimpaku is one of the terms used to id Junipers, as are  Tosho and Sonare.
Lets not get into a taxonomy debate about the Chinese Junipers, they are a mess and represent something of a conundrum to taxonomists. If you say Chinese Juniper what do you mean? The Chinese junipers are a highly diverse taxon (set of taxons?)  that can hybridize readily with other "species" to include Juniperus sabina (one of the Hybrids is the Pfitzer juniper). Further, many individuals that were once thought to be conspecifics are now being split down in to "new species' , for example, based on DNA evidence:

118 (April 2011) 93(1)
SYSTEMATICS OF JUNIPERUS CHINENSIS AND J. TSUKUSIENSIS FROM JAPAN AND TAIWAN: DNA SEQUENCING AND TERPENOIDS.
Robert P. Adams
Biology Department, Baylor University, Box 97388, Waco, TX
76798, USA, Robert_Adams@baylor.edu
Chang-Fu Hsieh
Institute of Ecology and Evolutionary Biology, National Taiwan University
Taipei 106, Taiwan
Jin Murata
Botanical Gardens, Koishikawa, Graduate School of Science,
The University of Tokyo, 3-7-1 Hakusan, Bunkyo-ku, Tokyo 112-0001, Japan
and
Andrea E. Schwarzbach
Department of Biological Sciences, University of Texas at Brownsville, Brownsville, TX 78520, USA.
ABSTRACT
Analyses of nrDNA, petN-psbM, trnD-trnT and trnS-trnG revealed that Juniperus chinensis var. tsukusiensis and J. c. var. taiwanensis are not conspecific with J. chinensis. In addition, analyses of the leaf oils (terpenoids) also revealed numerous differences. Based on these new data, J. c. var. tsukusiensis is recognized as J. tsukusiensis Masam. and J. c. var. taiwanensis as J. tsukusiensis var. taiwanensis (R. P. Adams and C-F. Hsieh) R. P. Adams, comb. nov. Phytologia 93(1): 118-131 (April 1, 2011).

This is very similar to the debate about Pinus pentaphylla vs Pinus parviflora where I expect that DNA evidence will support the combination of the two types in to the common species Pinus parviflora Sub parviflora and Pinus parviflora sub pentaphylla, and the continued sublimation of Pinus himekantsu into Pinus parviflora.

T Businsky, R.(2004)  A revision of the Asian Pinus subsection Strobus (Pinaceae). – Willdenowia 34: 209-
257. – ISSN 0511-9618;

So like I said, a Shimpaku is a Shimpaku, I don't want to even think about what will happen if they ever get around to SNP analysis of the variants we like to use as bonsai.
John
Title: Re: i have a question???? Whats your opinion????
Post by: John Kirby on October 04, 2011, 01:40 PM
On your question, was Naka wrong, no. But ask 99% of western bonsai folks what a Shimpaku is and they will get it right.

The Naka books are a great aid in getting the feel for bonsai, however, many of the things he teaches have been replaced by more modern and effective techniques. He had a great eye and a wonderful ability to communicate with others while teaching. However, while I frequently go back and look at both Volumes, I remember that they are dated and represent the very best of western bonsai at that time. A lot has changed since the 60's and 70's and while we should respect those that came before, we need to move forward with the information and resources that we now have available.
Title: Re: i have a question???? Whats your opinion????
Post by: nathanbs on October 04, 2011, 02:16 PM
I thought of the Japanese white pine and decided to leave that alone :)
I guess my idea was that it is a bad habit that could/should be changed. "A lot has changed since the 60's and 70's and while we should respect those that came before, we need to move forward with the information and resources that we now have available." I was trying to be a resource of information to influence a change in the direction of what i thought to be correct from incorrect.
As I write this i realize that to call a chinese juniper shimpaku is definitely not wrong just maybe too general.
I bet as the popularity of japanese juniper cultivars continues to grow so will the usage of their specific nicknames. I am willing to bet in the next 10 years Kishu and Itoigawa will be referred to by those names without the mention of shimpaku. Ill leave it that. Thank you for entertaining my question.
Title: Re: i have a question???? Whats your opinion????
Post by: cbobgo on October 04, 2011, 06:26 PM
In Japan do they call Japanese Maples "Japanese Maples" or do they just call them Maples?  And why would that matter what we call them elsewhere?

Same goes for junipers.  The Japanese can call junipers whatever they want in Japanese.  In the Western world, Shimpaku means a subset of junipers with a particular type of foliage that is desirable for bonsai.  It's not a taxonomic name, it's a descriptive name that lets us know what we are talking about.

- bob
Title: Re: i have a question???? Whats your opinion????
Post by: nathanbs on October 04, 2011, 07:01 PM
In Japan do they call Japanese Maples "Japanese Maples" or do they just call them Maples?  And why would that matter what we call them elsewhere?

Same goes for junipers.  The Japanese can call junipers whatever they want in Japanese.  In the Western world, Shimpaku means a subset of junipers with a particular type of foliage that is desirable for bonsai.  It's not a taxonomic name, it's a descriptive name that lets us know what we are talking about.

- bob

I think i have already come to this conclusion, but thank you for your input anyways
Title: Re: i have a question???? Whats your opinion????
Post by: Elliott on October 04, 2011, 10:53 PM
I agree with Nathan. I guess in my circles, people are commonly grafting itoigawa or kishu onto California or prostrata or whatever, so I get pretty interested in the specific type. Most people refer to my favorite specie of tree as "oak" but I immediately ask or look to see if it is live, scrub, holly, valley, etc. If someone tells me they like "shimpaku" as their favorite bonsai material, I will wonder do they mean junipers in general or are they referring to kishu?
 It may sound anal retentive to be so specific like that, but I think getting detailed like that is a step closer to reaching the level of trees they have in Japan. We can certainly have our own western style, but we won't reach their level until we take things a little more serious.. Like Ryan Neal said, most of the trees you see in shows here would not come near the Japanese standard.
 I realize how we refer to junipers wont improve a specific tree, but it goes to our mindset to strive to a higher level. I think in the future, we will see a trend to be more specific with our terminology.
 Now, if only I can get people to stop saying "Banzai"......... LOL
Title: Re: i have a question???? Whats your opinion????
Post by: John Kirby on October 05, 2011, 08:29 AM
Elliott,
In my circle we graft the various shimpaku regional variants on to RMJ, Western, California, San Jose, Prostrata, etc Junipers too. However, these are purported local variants. Typically we all graft clones generated by cuttings for approach or scions for side veneer or cleft or whatever. Not all of the material is uniform, some so called itoigawa (or should that be itoikawa?) look coarse like tohaku but light green, some kishu looks fine like itoigawa but with dark green color. If you check the threads here, I post those trees that are obviously itoigawa as itoigawa shimpaku, kishu as kishu shimpaku. I have hundreds of both, but even our friends in japan call shimpakus Shimpaku. How is this going to improve bonsai in the West? Make really good bonsai, that is how to improve bonsai in the west. Learn what a good tree is, how to wire, how to manage foliage, how to take the best qualities of a tree and make them  and the rest of the tree better and how to keep the tree growing well, healthy and happy.

I guess I would say, don't waste your time by dozens or even hundreds of crappy trees, "to get experience", learn, work with really good people and have a few trees of the highest standards, whether bought or collected or both, and work as hard and intelligently on your trees like the Japanese Bonsai Professionals do. then you can have trees as good as the Japanese. And you can call them Bob if you want to.
Title: Re: i have a question???? Whats your opinion????
Post by: Elliott on October 05, 2011, 09:15 AM
I think this is all got to complicated.  to say i have grafted shimpacu onto my juniper like I hear all the time means I grafted juniper onto my juniper, which is redundant. Untill a couple of years ago, I thought shimpacu WAS a kind of juniper. For ME using correct terms go hand in hand with making better trees.
  The reason my skills got better when I started using the correct term was because I started to hang out with and now study from artists who have superlative skils and material and they dont say "shimpacu juniper" they may say "Shimpacu" or "kishu shimpacu" or just "kishu" saying kishu shimpacu is like saying "jin dead branch"
 Like I said, for me, proper terms goes to the mindset I need to make better trees. Like proper wiring, fertilizing, etc. Im just emulating what the people around me who have the best trees do.
 Lets just let this topic go. I didnt even have junipers untill 2 yrs ago! Im a broedleaf guy. If anyone has awesome trees, good for them no matter what they call them! I just choose to use the proper translation. Thanks hearing my 2 cents. 
Title: Re: i have a question???? Whats your opinion????
Post by: John Kirby on October 05, 2011, 11:40 AM
Go get em. I'm going to call mine "Bob the Shimpaku".
Title: Re: i have a question???? Whats your opinion????
Post by: jtucker on October 05, 2011, 12:59 PM
The very nature of language is to communicate meaning, in this case, to identify a couple different varietals/subspecies of juniper. I could call a juniper "red crayon" and if we all agreed that "red crayon" was the term used to identify a juniper, then "red crayon" will have done its job.

In the United States, the general agreement is that "shimpaku juniper" represents a group of chinese junipers with similar characteristics that many people find pleasing to work with as bonsai. For further differentiation, we adopted the names that have been used in Japan; kishu, itoigawa, etc.

It's not about science, or what the Japanese do, or tradition or even whether Master Naka was right or wrong. It's about communication, plain and simple. When I say shimpaku juniper, or kishu shimpaku, you understand the meaning of those words and know the plants to which I refer. The terminology has done its job.

It seems like a similar argument to the use of Japanese terms to describe tree styles. It's good to study the meaning of the word chokkan to get an understanding of what the Japanese tried to convey when they first named that style with that word. However, insisting on always calling a formal upright "chokkan" in English speaking circles is just silly because it unnecessarily complicates the communication and confuses people who don't speak Japanese.

So even though our terminology may be "incorrect," from what Matsu and Kirby are saying, so is the Japanese terminology, scientifically speaking. Why not use the incorrect terminology that most people in your country will understand? If you hang out with a bunch of Japanese bonsai artists, then feel free to use their terminology when speaking in Japanese...
Title: Re: i have a question???? Whats your opinion????
Post by: nathanbs on October 05, 2011, 03:39 PM
i get it i get it no need to beat it in my head. You/us/we are set in our ways. But as long as we call this art bonsai (japanese for tree in tray/pot) why not respect the Japanese when they are telling us we are doing and/or saying something incorrect. I think they would listen to us if they were saying or doing something wrong with the game of basketball. Thats it.  I tried, I failed, now back to The American art of dwarf trees
Title: Re: i have a question???? Whats your opinion????
Post by: MatsuBonsai on October 05, 2011, 04:32 PM
I think perhaps go back and read Owen's reply.  He seems to have knowledge directly from Japan.
Title: Re: i have a question???? Whats your opinion????
Post by: nathanbs on October 05, 2011, 05:18 PM
What? do I read that correctly? Just because i'm Herman nobody the Japanese bonsai artists whether they are Nisei or Isei that have told me stop referring to it as just shimpaku because its too general are wrong? Give me a break.
Title: Re: i have a question???? Whats your opinion????
Post by: MatsuBonsai on October 05, 2011, 05:21 PM
I just happened to be flipping through Kobayashi's book.  It seems the term "shimpaku" was used a total of 3 times, with 2 different spellings.  I guess the translator should fall on his sword in disgrace.    ;D
Title: Re: i have a question???? Whats your opinion????
Post by: MatsuBonsai on October 05, 2011, 05:23 PM
What? do I read that correctly? Just because i'm Herman nobody the Japanese bonsai artists whether they are Nisei or Isei that have told me stop referring to it as just shimpaku because its too general are wrong? Give me a break.

No.  I do think however their meaning may have been lost on you.  What I suspect they meant was "itoigawa shimpaku" may be shortened to "itoigawa".  But, as John Kirby was so kind to point out, the regional differences are so minute that it is often very difficult to accurately label them as such.  As has been said, "shimpaku" is relatively safe.  If others are so anal to correct, then let them.
Title: Re: i have a question???? Whats your opinion????
Post by: nathanbs on October 05, 2011, 05:33 PM
I just happened to be flipping through Kobayashi's book.  It seems the term "shimpaku" was used a total of 3 times, with 2 different spellings.  I guess the translator should fall on his sword in disgrace.    ;D

 :) out of curiosity what was the more common term used in his book?
Title: Re: i have a question???? Whats your opinion????
Post by: MatsuBonsai on October 05, 2011, 05:38 PM
Juniperus chinensis var. Sargentii.  Perhaps a safer approach, but just as broad.  It's quite a mouthful.  I'll stick with shimpaku for the generic of the species unless traveling to Japan.  Then, I'll just point and motion towards the tree in question.
Title: Re: i have a question???? Whats your opinion????
Post by: John Kirby on October 05, 2011, 05:50 PM
Akio calls them "Shimpaku", but I guess he doesn't count because he is from Japan. And he wants to graft Shimpaku (his term)  on to both my big Western and the twisty Rocky Mountain I have here in CT.
Title: Re: i have a question???? Whats your opinion????
Post by: MatsuBonsai on October 05, 2011, 05:54 PM
That's just because he doesn't like the sticky foliage of the Western.  ;)
Title: Re: i have a question???? Whats your opinion????
Post by: nathanbs on October 05, 2011, 06:11 PM
Juniperus chinensis var. Sargentii.  Perhaps a safer approach, but just as broad.  It's quite a mouthful.  I'll stick with shimpaku for the generic of the species unless traveling to Japan.  Then, I'll just point and motion towards the tree in question.

I agree but with my own twist, I will call Kishu when known Kishu, Itoigawa when known Itoigawa, and shimpaku if im not sure what it is or it may be a different variation of juniperus chinensis var. Sargentii than either kishu or itoigawa
Title: Re: i have a question???? Whats your opinion????
Post by: nathanbs on October 05, 2011, 06:17 PM
Akio calls them "Shimpaku", but I guess he doesn't count because he is from Japan. And he wants to graft Shimpaku (his term)  on to both my big Western and the twisty Rocky Mountain I have here in CT.

Ok so now im just going to pull your leg a little.  What kind of shimpaku does he want to graft? I think part of the issue is some people hate kishu and love itoigawa or vice versa, and to call them the exact same name "shimpaku" makes no sense. If you loved bacon but hated sausage and they were both just referred to as meat how would you order your morning breakfast? Give me eggs with a side of meat and hope for the best that they give you what you like?
Title: Re: i have a question???? Whats your opinion????
Post by: John Kirby on October 05, 2011, 07:03 PM
He said Shimpaku, as did Mike Hagedorn on the RMJ, I would expect that we would use the generalized Shimapku, not kishu (to slow) not Itoigawa (too fine), not Tohaku (too blue) but the generalized Shimpaku. Go eat Sausage.
Title: Re: i have a question???? Whats your opinion????
Post by: nathanbs on October 05, 2011, 07:35 PM
He said Shimpaku, as did Mike Hagedorn on the RMJ, I would expect that we would use the generalized Shimapku, not kishu (to slow) not Itoigawa (too fine), not Tohaku (too blue) but the generalized Shimpaku. Go eat Sausage.

Are you kidding? Or serious? i can't tell without smiley faces or mean faces
Title: Re: i have a question???? Whats your opinion????
Post by: John Kirby on October 05, 2011, 08:31 PM
No more ATP on this topic. Look it up.
Title: Re: i have a question???? Whats your opinion????
Post by: nathanbs on October 05, 2011, 08:53 PM
you never clarified whether you were joking or implying that i should go suck -----?
ATP? Adenosine Triphosphate, Ask the Planet, Assume the Position?
Also was unaware of this so-called "generalized shimpaku" that was another reason why i was wondering if you were joking or not?
Title: Re: i have a question???? Whats your opinion????
Post by: Dave Murphy on October 05, 2011, 09:18 PM
Go eat Sausage.
Patties or links?   ;D ;D

sorry, couldn't resist.

Dave (proud owner of numerous juniper bonsai, including but not limited to shimpaku ;))
Title: Re: i have a question???? Whats your opinion????
Post by: John Kirby on October 06, 2011, 05:46 PM
ATP- adenosine triphosphate as energy source.

Sausage- ground pork product (related to your bacon reference).

Generalized Shimpaku- those Shimpaku which are not local variants, found over the broad range.

Not joking, no hidden meanings.
Title: Re: i have a question???? Whats your opinion????
Post by: nathanbs on October 06, 2011, 06:01 PM
whats the relation of ATP to this thread?
And there certainly is an implied meaning when someone tells you go eat sausage. You dont know me, we are not friends, I would appreciate you not conduct yourself like a child when posting a reply on my thread.
Title: Re: i have a question???? Whats your opinion????
Post by: MatsuBonsai on October 06, 2011, 07:49 PM
Easy there trigger. We're all friends here. Perhaps it's time to let this thread fade away.
Title: Re: i have a question???? Whats your opinion????
Post by: John Kirby on October 06, 2011, 08:00 PM
Hmm, this really isn't worth the ATP it is consuming. Junipers? Sorry Matsu.
Title: Re: i have a question???? Whats your opinion????
Post by: nathanbs on October 06, 2011, 10:32 PM
@Matsu we are friends as we have an awesome hobby/art in common, however this does not give one the right to say or imply something like that. Not to be too extreme but i would venture to say people have lost their lives do to saying something along those lines. Its inappropriate and immature. I would say i am taking it easy considering the alternative reactions or comments i could have chosen.
@John, Maybe next time try saying energy as opposed to ATP, no need to get savvy, especially given the circumstances. On one hand you want to say Shimpaku because you are lazy and on the other you choose to use ATP instead of saying energy. Cant quite figure you out. Lets let it go. I will say no more.
Title: Re: i have a question???? Whats your opinion????
Post by: Bonsai Study Group Admin on October 06, 2011, 10:54 PM
Ok, that's enough.

Move along folks, nothing to see here.