In Japanese culture you can notice that there is a tendency to recreate nature around into the type of food they eat, the clothes they wear and paintings, songs that are made. As such, bonsai is also a recreation of nature into the comfort of the small space of your homes or gardens. When you look at Bonsai, an entire landscape can unfold in the mind’s eye. Bonsai are not grown, they are made. A grower tending to the plant each day must envision the plant growing into the form he desires decades ahead of time. It takes great time a patience to grow a sapling into a vision of a majestic tree. Some bonsai are even passed down from generations and are tended for centuries.
The difference between a potted plant and a bonsai is that potted plants are usually admired for their singular beauty like the flower or fruit. On the other hand bonsai are recognized as a holistic, total works of art which creates a landscape. Bonsai artists treat their Bonsai like their children and take care of it with great care and dedication giving lavishing attention to its growth and future.
The origins of bonsai can be traced back to 7th century China found in scrolls which show small plants and rocks like landscapes which could be carried around. This has a different evolution in Japan. To Japan it was brought 800 years ago to aristocrats who would have miniature landscapes in their gardens as pastime. It spread to the general public about 300 years ago, up to that time the trees used were mostly pine trees, now a large variety of species of trees came into use. It was once an important feature of Japanese hospitality, the center piece of a room, with a hanging scroll and one ornamental piece, together, they give a scene of the season and tell a story. Creating an atmosphere to please and welcome their guests.
In 1970, Osaka hosted a world exhibition, which showcased bonsai to foreigners, it generated new interest and curiosity around the world. In Europe especially, bonsai made a big splash, bonsai academies, imported pots from Japan grew. If you visit Tokyo ,do visit the Bonsai art museum in Saitama, has displays of various creations of bonsai as works of art giving a good idea of the different styles and variations.
There are some basic bonsai forms: the straight trunk style like a Christmas tree, a drooping sweeping arc style, multiple trunks emerging from one root, roots wrapped around a stone.
A crucial factor in gaining appeal to the tree is the “bon” the pot. A good match between tree and pot is important to admire the tree itself. The current way to look at a bonsai is crouched down below and look up the bonsai. Various techniques are used to make the form for these tress which may not grow naturally as the artist envisions. Supporting wires may be used when the plant is young to make it grow into the desired form, the wire is adjusted again and again as the trees grow gradually setting the shape. Replanting the tree into new pots every 2 or 3 years to keep the plant strong and healthy.
Cultivating bonsai takes time, effort and money, in Japan, bonsai has rationally been regarded as a hobby for older men. Recently more youngster and women are becoming interested in this art as hobbies.
Times maybe changing but these tress have withstood the times and continue towards the future, tiny and mighty.