Bonsai – Japanese Garden Art

Bonsai refers to a potted plant but it is not just cultivating plants and trees in a pot. Bonsai is a highly refined form of art and represents the dynamism of a natural landscape inside a tiny container. It is recognised as an art in which it is possible to create artificial beauty that actually looks more natural than nature. Bonsai requires scrupulous and constant care, and involves a careful consideration of the shapes and positions of trees and plants in a pot, appropriate trimming, the use of wires to control the shapes of the branches and trunks, and even making the roots of a tree grow in an exposed form over a rock. Unlike static paintings or sculptures, bonsai is a living work of art, whose beauty derives from its representations constantly changing as do the seasons.
Moreover, a work of bonsai can last hundreds of years: there is, still in existence, one old bonsai taken care of by different owners since an ancient Japanese Shogun (Japanese military leader) potted it 400 years ago.
Today, the Japanese word ‘bonsai’ is used all over the world. In the USA, Spain and France, there are specialised bonsai magazines with circulation in the tens of thousands. In Italy, there is even a university and a museum that specialise in bonsai.
Small-scaled bonsai (approx. 20cm) and mini-bonsai (10cm) have recently grown in popularity as they are relatively easy to keep and take care of.

Bonsai and Japanese Pottery

Bonsai uses various types of containers, known as ‘bonsai pots’. Consequently, the history of bonsai is closely related to the history of Japanese pottery. When a work of bonsai is highly appreciated, a part of the aesthetic judgment is also given to the pot in which the work is planted. The best bonsai is always placed in the best kind of pottery.