Jin, Sharimiki and Sabamiki

Among the tricks used to 'Age' a bonsai is the dead wood technique. Used to give the impression of a tree that has perhaps been struck by lightning, or suffered some other trauma long ago.

Jins & Shari's are usually seen on conifers. Deciduous trees tend to heal over such wounds, shedding the branch in doing so.

Jin & Sharimiki are often used when creating a bonsai from either nursery stock or collected material. Usually to mask a defect, perhaps an overlarge branch, or to reduce an overtall tree and give it a better trunk taper to height ratio.

Ideally dead wood effects should look weathered. Roughen, or carve the timber wherever possible.

The tree to the left shows a lot of both Jin and Sharimiki. The lower branch on the right, showing a strip of living tissue wrapped around the branch, in much the same way as wire would be, This bark supports the foliage at the tip.

The tree was drawn from a photograph.

Sabamiki is generally used on collected material, with a large trunk.

So what is the difference between Jin and Sharimiki ?.

Jins occur on either the top of the tree or as a dead branch.

Sharimiki is a dead area on the trunk and is often described as 'Driftwood style' but is not a true style, more an effect that can be applied to a number of styles.

Trees with two leaders look unnatural. If you have such a tree you should consider turning the taller of the two into a jin, giving the impression of a tree that has suffered a trauma, such as being hit by lightning, adding to the feeling of age.


Sabamiki, or hollow trunk tends to be used to disguise the lack of taper in collected material, particularly when that material may best be described as a 'stump'. This is not a technique for the faint hearted. Whenever I've made a 'Sabamiki' tree I've put the trunk in a 'Workmate' and carved it out with a power drill. I use a burr or router cutter for the actual removal of the wood. You can however carve it out with a chisel and this is I feel a safer method, provided that you remember always cut away from you.

I have seen demonstrations where chainsaws have been used, to very good effect. On completion of the hollowing I've charred the inside if the tree with a blowtorch, then wire brushed the surface smooth then treated it with a preservative (read on).

The best time to do this is at repotting time when the roots are bare, but wrap them in a wet cloth to protect them.


The illustration to the left shows two cross section views of hollow trunks. How much wood you remove is down to your feeling on what will give the best effect, as much as your ability to remove the wood.

Remember to treat the wood with a preservative.


The dead wood is treated with a preservative available from bonsai outlets, it's a mixture of lime and sulphur. PLEASE read the instructions carefully. And wear goggles !!

A bottle of lime-sulphur (I hope)

Allen. C. Roffey 00:10 08/01/2006