The origins of Bonsai

The miniature trees known as ‘Bonsai’ have been widely regarded as coming from Japanese culture however their origins are now widely accepted as beginning in China. ‘Punsai’ started in China around 700AD when they used special containers to grow dwarf trees and were spread throughout China as luxurious gifts before being adopted by South Korea and Japan. The Japanese term Bonsai literally means ‘tree in a tray’ as both container and tree must form one single entity. The Bonsai trees generally seen in the west are those heavily influenced by Japanese culture and are often more aesthetically pleasing and appear naturalistic. Bonsai trees, if treated with proper care and maintenance can last indefinitely. One such example is the Sandai-Shogun-No Matsu pine needle tree standing on display in the Tokyo Imperial Palace which, according to historical documents began life in 1610 AD.