Everything You Need To Know About Japanese Maple Bonsai (Momiji) – Spirit of Japan
Everything You Need To Know About Japanese Maple Bonsai (Momiji)

Everything You Need To Know About Japanese Maple Bonsai (Momiji)

Japan is famously known for Sakura (Cherry Blossoms) all around the world. While Sakura of course are beautiful, people here in Japan share an almost equal love for the Japanese Maple or Momiji (紅葉). Sakura represent new beginnings in spring with its beautiful white and pink blossoms, while the Japanese Maple signifies the end of the summer and the nicer weather. This time of year is a favorite for many and is largely unknown to travelers in Japan with this time of year being one of the least busy, and also most affordable times to visit Japan. 
Koyo Hunting
Koyo is a Japanese word that is used to describe the changing of the leaves. Some trees will turn a vibrant yellow, while others such as the Japanese Maple will change to a gorgeous deep red. These sights are treasured here and the people of Japan will make special trips to find the most beautiful koyo in places such as

Arashiyama

Matsumoto Castle

Rurikoin Temple

Rurikoin Geisha Autumn

And Throughout Japan

Kyoto Japanese Maple Temple

 When Do Japanese Maple Change Color?

The Japanese Maple are a clear sign that the seasons are changing and the weather is cooling down. Typically when the morning temperature is about 6-7 degrees celsius the leaves will begin to change. In Japan this can start in September in Northern Hokkaido, and across the country can last into December in the more southern areas. Here in Kyoto the peak Koyo is at the end of November into the start of December. Your area may be different depending on the climate, but as the seasons change into autumn, the momiji's leaves will change as well.

How To Grow A Japanese Maple Bonsai

The easiest way to have your own Japanese Maple is to buy one pre-grown. Here in Japan that is very easy, but may be more difficult to find in other countries. You can truly grow your own with our seed packs. Each pack comes with 50 seeds to get you started growing your own from the ground up. It will take time, but we certainly believe this is the most rewarding. Another option is finding a Japanese Maple and asking if you can take a cutting to try and root, or perform air layering on a branch that can later be removed to form a bonsai. This again may be difficult to find in your area.  
Japanese Maple generally will prefer partial shade but make for a great starter bonsai as they are relatively easy to maintain and get started compared to some other types. 
One of the biggest things to keep in mind when growing your Maple Bonsai, or any bonsai for that matter is proper drainage. There is specific bonsai soil that you can buy, but it is important that excess water is able to easily drain to avoid rotting the roots. A planter with a hole in the bottom is always good and it helps to have some aggregate such as small stones or gravel at the bottom of the bonsai pot to help the water drain and avoid the soil becoming stagnant and overly moist.
 

How To Shape Maple Bonsai

Shaping bonsai is one of the most interesting and artistic parts of the process. New branches will be growing in the Spring and Summer and these can be trimmed back to maintain the trees size and overall shape. This also helps the already existing branches, trunk and leaves to grow thicker and more full as the extra nutrients are not being used to grow new branches and leaves. A strong but flexible wire is also used to wrap around the trunk and branches. This can then be used to bend the tree into the shape you desire. The wire will hold the tree in that shape, and as the tree grows, it will hold the shape set by the wire. 
Japanese Moss ball maple
One of our favorite ways to plant Momiji is in a Kokedama (Japanese Moss Ball Planter) This creative Japanese pot is a common way to grow small bonsai inside another another plant. Both environmentally friendly and beautiful!
Whether you choose to grow your own Japanese Maple Bonsai with one of our seed packs, visit Japan in autumn to hunt down your own beautiful scenery or just enjoy the images you find on the internet, Momiji are a truly beautiful part of Japanese culture and we hope you enjoy them as much as we do. 
 

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