Bonsai Design and Display Critique – #3 Japanese Maple

Japanese Maples are one of the most popular bonsai specimen with good reason. Here is one of my favorite Japanese Maple displays I’ve seen. For the previous critique on the Olive tree click here.

Japanese Maple Bonsai Display

What do the trunks and branching communicate?

The trunks clearly show a dominant trunk with two smaller trunks. The branches seem a bit chaotic but help to display a mature canopy.

The rounded canopy suggests maturity which is complimented by the branching that is visible from the front. You can see the ramification of the branches which portrays the lack of foliage in the interior and gives the impression of age.

What does the display communicate?

The display has a sense of simplicity to it as a whole. No drastic angle changes in the display, tree, companion plant, or scroll.


Great balance in the display. The main tree is higher up to make it easier to view, while the scroll is at a similar height and the companion plant is lower to not detract from the main tree.

I’m not 100% sure on that pot color selection. Maybe it’ll blend better in the Fall once the leaves change colors, but that blue doesn’t seem to resonate with the display or tree in any way.

Wonderful consistency throughout the display of feminine design.


The tree seems to be planted a bit too high in the pot. When you have a pot that shallow you should be planting it inside the pot to make the trees size versus the pots size more dramatic.

There are a few branches that cross from this viewing angle on the left side. I can’t say for sure, but the silhouette would seem to be untouched by removing the two branches on the lower left side.

I want to see the nebari so badly, but it is hidden by the moss. I’d like a better angle to be able to see if the nebari helps to show age of the tree.

Next Up:

Elm and Pine Bonsai Display

This display is up next for critique.