Bonsai: An East Asian art of cultivating small trees in containers

Bonsai is an art in which small trees are cultivated like shape prototypes of full-scale trees.

Bonsai is the Japanese living dwarf tree or trees or the art of training and growing them in containers. The bonsai tree is potted miniature trees that are carefully styled to achieve an aesthetic effect. Including the Chinese tradition of penzai or penjing similar practices exist in other cultures, from which the art originated, and the miniature living landscapes of Vietnamese Hòn Non-Bộ. 

By the Japanese Bonsai, however, has been pursued and developed primarily. In the Kasuga-gongen-Genki (1309) the first Japanese record of dwarfed potted trees. By Takashina Takakane a picture scroll by. In nature, the direct inspiration for bonsai is found. Trees remain dwarfed and gnarled throughout their existence which grows in rocky crevices of high mountains, or that overhang cliffs. The bonsai is a Japanese term which, literally translated, and means "planted in a container". Over a thousand years it has been around. To create a miniaturized but realistic representation of nature in the form of a tree is the ultimate goal of growing a Bonsai. These plants are not genetically dwarfed plants any tree species can be used to grow one. To limit and redirect healthy growth Techniques such as pinching buds, pruning and wiring branches, and carefully restricting but not abandoning fertilizers are used. The plants with smaller leaves do make these compositions easier to design. Any plant can be successfully grown in a container to restrict its roots/food storage capability which has a woody stem or trunk, grows true branches, and has smaller or reducible-leaves can be used to create a Bonsai. Behind Bonsai trees the basic concept is derived from Chinese Penjing, an idea of creating miniature versions of landscapes that itself is thought to be nearly two thousand years old.

By the 7th and 8th centuries, and by the 13th century it is believed that the branches of this art form had reached Japan, it is possible to see Bonsai in paintings. There was also a popular folktale about a samurai who burned three Bonsai trees to provide warmth for a monk on a cold night around this time the monk was an official in disguise, and he subsequently rewards the samurai in reality. To keep the trees small but in proportion to how they might have looked if grown in nature various techniques such as the trimming of roots and wiring are used. As the subject some art pieces also use grass. Purposely some trees feature white-colored, dead parts without bark to represent the struggle of a tree in nature.

Bonsai has various styles that define what the finished Bonsai looks like, but in general, the idea is that it is miniaturized and that there are no obvious indications that the Bonsai's creator has shaped it.

The types of a Bonsai tree are as follows:

Formal and Informal Straight: In a formal straight bonsai is straight the trunk is straight, and the pinnacle of the tree is in line with the body and the base. The trunk slants slightly, In case of an informal straight bonsai but the top of the tree still ends up directly above the center of the base.

Slant: the entire tree is slanted to one side, as the name suggests.

Cascade: the tree grows downwards to one side to a degree where its pinnacle ends up at the same height or lower than the pot, rather than in an upright fashion, like a tree at the edge of a cliff.

Forest and Multi-Trunk: multiple trees are grown in the same pot, carefully fashioned to mimic a forest, in a forest style bonsai. 

Rock: on a rock with its roots anchored in the rock's cracks or the soil below the tree grows.