A ‘Bonsai’, potted dwarfed tree, is one of Japan’s art form to realize a shape of natural tree in a small plant pot.
The origin of a ‘Bonsai’ is unclear, however it likely stems from a traditional practice to enjoy a miniature garden observed in ancient China, which came to Japan in the Heian period, in the 9th century. Later in the history in the 17th century, it turned to be very popular as a hobby of samurai warriors and had taken root as an unique art style in the country. Taking more than hundreds of years, a pine tree, apricot tree, maple tree and so on had been elaborately taken care of with various techniques and stylizations such as trimming, fertilizing and correcting the shape of trees. Finally it has become as if a natural stately tree although planted in a small plant pot. Because bonsais have been handed down from generation to generation, some of them may cost more than ten million yen! The sample of a ‘Bonsai’ on display at an alcove in the picture, against the backdrop of a hanging picture scroll of a rising sun, realises a image of landscape in a small space of Japanese room.
By Masahisa Takaki.
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