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Hello everyone

After a short affair with bonsai a few years ago I want to return to this fascinating hobby,but this time with shohin and mame only.
I have several reasons:they are so cute  ;D,they require less physical effort than lifting a 100 lbs tree and pot,I have a balcony,not a patio or garden so space is limited and up to a point they are more economical.
The problem is that I have so far no notion of which tools to use with them.I hear that the Chinese had improved over the years in the quality of their tools,but so far I can find only big sets a good prices.I suspect I will use just a few of these tools.
I don't mind buying Japanese tools,but my budget is somewhat limited, even though I can stretch it monthly and get a couple of tools at a time.
The other thing is that I found only one book on shohin and none on mame.I ordered already the one on shohin.On the web I find mostly pictures,but little to almost no information.
Any help suggesting the needed tools,recommended books and if there is any links that I must be aware of,please let me know.I will be in the meantime reading the forum.
Thank you in advance for your replies.

Jerry Norbury:
The great news about shohin and mame is that you can get away with the absolute minimum in tools.

I good pair of shears is your starting point. Something along these lines:
Next would be the small size (170mm) Concave branch cutters:

Regarding books - the Morten Albek one. Here's his website:

The techniques for shohin/mame are clearly similar in many ways (propagation, general care) and differ in others (pruning, watering requirements, soil composition).

Read these articles:

And don't forget about the American Shohin Bonsai Association as a great resource,

Although they're easier to lift, that's about all that's easier about them compared to larger bonsai.

Shohin and especially mame, are more difficult to design, maintain and care for than larger bonsai.

It's all because smaller is less forgiving than larger. The smaller the tree, the less room there is for error.

Practically, they are alot more trouble than larger trees. With shohin and mame, soil volume is vastly smaller than in larger bonsai. Shohin and mame dry out very quickly (and a balcony placement would expose them to windier -and resultingly drier conditions). They're also more vulnerable to temperature (they can heat up very quickly and dangerously in the summer if left in sun). Both temperature and especially drying out can lead to almost instant death in a single afternoon. Drying out is a particular issue with smaller plants. Many mame and shohin enthusiasts make special tables that hold several inches of sand and push their trees into it --watering the sand--to maintain a more even moist environment. They're also chained to a more rigorous watering schedule than bonsaiists with larger trees.

Artistically, small trees are more technically demanding. Since there is less room for branching and leaves, each branch and leaf increases in significance. One leaf can sometimes stand in for an entire branch on a mame tree. If you're too aggressive with pruning, inattentive to watering for a single afternoon, and you lose a branch, your entire design of the tree is pretty much ruined.

Well designed and maintained mame and shohin are not an easy thing to pull off. Good shohin and mame trees are the mark of an experienced bonsaiist.

Thank you guys for all the replies.Even if I'm a little no too confident as if I have a green thumb or not,I  have in all modesty,artistic approach.I'm good at drawing and painting,so design is not the issue.I'm more concerned about the proper care,but at least I  have the time for them,I'm at home 99 % of the time,so I can can take care of the demanding chores like continuous watering,etc.
Regarding tools,since these are small trees,I was thinking more along the lines of these: and a smaller scissor/shear as this one:
 and :
Maybe later,I can buy more tools,but to begin with,aren't these good enough? ???

Thank you.


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