Why Are Bonsai Scissors So Expensive?

Bonsai is an increasingly popular art form, and many people would love to own and grow a bonsai tree themselves, but there is more to this than just picking one up from the store. You will need the correct tools and equipment, and one of the most important things is a high-quality pair of bonsai scissors – but these can be pricey. So, why are bonsai scissors so expensive?

Bonsai scissors are expensive for several reasons, but one of the most important is that many are handmade by artists who have learned the craft and are relying upon hundreds of years of tradition. They take many hours to create, which is reflected in the high price point. There are cheaper, commercial versions available, but these will not be handcrafted by artisans.

How Much Do Traditional Bonsai Scissors Cost?

Bonsai Tools

You can buy cheap, factory-made bonsai scissors for very little money, easily under $10. However, these scissors are not made to the standards of this beautiful and ancient art form, and many enthusiasts do not feel they are a suitable tool.

They will probably do the job for a hobbyist just starting out, but dedicated artists tend to prefer a more honed and traditional tool that reflects the long history of bonsai.

In general, a pair of traditional bonsai scissors will cost you between $100 and $1000, and famously, they can cost up to $35,000 for a single pair. You might be astounded by that figure, and wondering how on earth a simple pair of scissors can cost so much money.

What Makes Bonsai Scissors So Expensive?

The pair that is responsible for this extraordinary price point came from the hands of an artist and fifth-generation scissor maker, Yasuhiro Hirawaka. He is the only traditional scissor craftsman left in Japan, and he still depends upon the time-honored methods for creating scissors, which means that his scissors can take more than a week to make.

More than 70 hours go into shaping a single pair of scissors, and this goes some way to explaining the high price point – that is a lot of hours to make just one tool. The love and energy that are poured into each pair are reflective of this beautiful tradition.

You can view videos of the creation method online, and as the last traditional craftsman in an art form so steeped in history, it is little wonder his scissors are so expensive to buy, but they aren’t friendly to anyone on a budget.

Of course, you do not need to buy handcrafted scissors from a Japanese craftsman if you don’t have that kind of budget while getting into the art of bonsai. The price point reflects the labor-intensive techniques and strenuous work involved in shaping the scissors, but you can purchase factory-made scissors that are a far lower cost.

You may even be able to purchase vintage, second-hand bonsai scissors online for a relatively low cost, but you should ensure that they are in good condition and have sharp blades, or they may damage your tree.

What Do Bonsai Scissors Look Like?

Bonsai scissors have short blades and wide, butterfly handles. The handles are often longer than the blades and flare out into curves to make them comfortable to hold. The handle shape makes it easier for you to cut without exerting a lot of pressure on the tree, which reduces the risk of you damaging it.

The blades of bonsai scissors are short, nimble, and sharp. They come to a point, so be careful when handling them so you don’t stab yourself.

Most bonsai scissors have handles that are just a little longer than the blades, allowing you to maneuver them easily and neatly. Some have handles that are longer than this, so that you can trim twigs and stems at the heart of the tree without your hand hitting the foliage.

You may find that both kinds are useful if you are a serious bonsai enthusiast, but many hobbyists just use the short-handled option.

Do I Need Bonsai Scissors?

Although some pruning can be done by hand, it is a good idea to have some scissors if you are going to get serious about creating a bonsai tree. Scissors will allow you to shape and style the tree, clear away dead branches and foliage, and precisely trim away any parts of the plant that are not needed.

It does depend on the kind of tree that you have, however. Although scissors tend to be an important tool, there are times when your bonsai is better off being trimmed by hand, not by a blade.

Certain conifers, for example, will be happier being pruned by your fingers, and you can gently tug away excess foliage and unwanted branches. If you cut these, the tree may develop brown, dead spots near the cuts, which is not attractive or healthy.

Wazakura Ashinaga Bonsai Scissors.
Wazakura Ashinaga Bonsai Scissors.

Overall, however, it is a good idea to have some high-quality bonsai scissors ready for when you need them. This will help to keep your tree in shape and give you more control over it. You may not need to spend thousands of dollars, as some enthusiasts do, but make sure you have a good, sharp pair of bonsai scissors if you want to get into this hobby.

How Do You Prune A Bonsai?

Before you start, it’s a good idea to spend some time learning about how to prune a bonsai and what this process entails. You could do major damage to your tree if you do not prune it properly, but neglecting to prune it may result in a tree that outgrows its container and does not look attractive.

You should spend some time learning about the specific kind of tree that you have, and its pruning needs. Things like the season may make a difference to when and how you should cut it. Regular pruning can help your tree to grow dense foliage and reduce the risk of branches getting out of proportion with each other.

Before you touch your bonsai, it is important to wash your hands and sterilize your tools. Do not use unsterilized scissors to cut your tree, as they may transfer diseases and infections to an open wound.

You can sterilize your bonsai scissors with rubbing alcohol, or by submerging them in hot water. Wash your hands thoroughly in warm, soapy water as well.

Why Can’t I Just Use Ordinary Scissors?

You might want to just use ordinary scissors for your bonsai tree if you have a pair lying around and you’re on a tight budget, but it is better not to do this. If you cannot afford expensive bonsai scissors, even a cheap pair will usually be preferable to kitchen scissors for several reasons.

Firstly, bonsai scissors are significantly sharper than kitchen scissors. This means that you will get a cleaner cut when you prune the tree, and this reduces the risk of infection because there won’t be torn tissues. The tree will heal the wound more quickly than a ragged wound.

The sharpness also means you get a neater look overall. Depending on how sharp your kitchen scissors are, they may leave visibly ragged edges, or cause the stem to snap and tear, rather than slicing it. This will not add to the aesthetics of your bonsai.

Kitchen scissors also tend to be too large to comfortably handle around a bonsai tree. They are not designed for use in tight spaces, and you are likely to find that you cannot accurately cut the tree where you want to.

You will find that bonsai scissors make it much easier to trim even tiny, awkward-to-reach parts of your bonsai, giving you more control over the pruning. Kitchen scissors will often result in you cutting parts that you didn’t mean to, or being unable to reach branches you would like to remove.

Finally, bonsai scissors also allow you to cut without exerting much pressure on the tree. Pressure is an issue because it increases the chances of the plant’s tissues tearing, and increases the risk of a branch snapping. You want the scissors to cut, rather than rip.

You should never have to apply a lot of pressure when you are trimming your bonsai tree, and using the correct scissors will ensure that this happens.


Traditional bonsai scissors are expensive because they are created by master artists, some of whom come from generations of craftsmen. These scissors can cost thousands of dollars, but it is possible to buy cheaper bonsai scissors that are commercially made, and these will still allow you to prune your bonsai.