The Bonsai Tradition
Bonsai (pronounced Bone-Sigh) is a Japanese word which means a miniaturized tree potted in an appropriate container. Bonsai is a living art form which is an integral part of the Japanese cultural tradition.
Historically, the art of bonsai had its origin in China, high in the craggy mountains where certain species of trees grow. Born by chance under very hostile climatic conditions, these surviving trees were found to be stunted, gnarled often grotesquely, burdened with ice and snow in the winter, and battered and twisted by high winds. Thus, rendered by nature, they served as models for the living art form which we know today as bonsai. Inspired by the natural beauty of these native miniature trees, students of bonsai seek to create trees which display the most aesthetically pleasing aspects of what is seen in nature.
Although bonsai were initially admired by the ruling class and priests of Japan, it is not surprising that bonsai would eventually become popular with the middle class. The Japanese have always appreciated and lived in harmony with their surroundings. The smallness of the potted trees make them economically compatible with the restricted space of the Japanese home gardens.
No longer confined to the orient, this art form now appeals to people throughout the world who have become involved as students and teachers, as well as patrons and devotees of the art of bonsai.