About Bonsai (盆栽)
Bonsai is to grow trees that grow wild in the fields and mountains in a bonsai pot and enjoy the beauty of the form. The major difference between Bonsai and simple potted plants is that it tries to recreate “nature” in the pot by modifying the tree. The real pleasure of bonsai is to show the landscape of nature through bonsai.
The reason why bonsai has been established as a Japanese culture is because there are forms and rules for the way trees are tailored and the types. For example, it is considered to be a work of art that “Bon (pot)” and “Sai (tree)” are united. It’s not just about looking at the tree, it’s about how well it works with the pot.
Bonsai is to “tailor” the tree and enjoy it. It’s not just a matter of planting a tree in a pot, and there are many different techniques that need to be used in the process. For example, prune a branch, cut a root, and bend a branch with wire and so on. However, it is a difficult point of bonsai that the artificial part should not be seen in the finish.
It is said that a good bonsai is the one that can condense the beauty and severity of nature and attract it, rather than showing the nature as it is.
There are many ways to express bonsai, so it’s good to start with learning the basic tree shape.
The beginning of Bonsai
The roots of bonsai is said to be the “Bonkei”, which was practiced in China.
It was introduced to Japan in the Heian period. It is a method of planting trees by laying stones and soil on top of a tray to create a natural scene. It was called “Bonsan” and appeared in picture scrolls of the time.
From the Kamakura period to the Sengoku period, it was also widely favored by samurai.
In the Edo period (1603-1868), it became popular among the common people, and it became even more popular in the Meiji period (1868-1912).
It has also become a popular hobby of the upper classes, from political and business executives to cultural figures.
The current use of Bonsai
For a while, Bonsai had been shunned as a hobby for its time and effort, but since the 1990s, its reputation has skyrocketed overseas.
It’s not only Japanese people who feel attachment to small seedlings as they change little by little every day, but people around the world also feel the same.
It is said that there are now more than 40 countries in the world who love BONSAI.
Nowadays in Japan, you can see more and more bonsai in restaurants and general stores, which can be found in the palm of your hand. More and more people are putting a bonsai on their office desk and using it to refresh their tired eyes on a computer screen.
It will be interesting to enjoy both the historic Japanese bonsai and the casual bonsai.