How Did Bonsai Plants Start in China and Japan?


The art of bonsai making has a very long history. In fact, it has been around for centuries. It is believed that in the beginning this practice was called Punsai, which means growing a tree in a pot. The first countries that popularize the art of bonsai making are China and Japan. Only recently it has spread to Europe and America.

The art of bonsai making in China

In ancient China, bonsai making was used to be called Penjing. It is believed that bonsai was originated during the Han dynasty. At that time, the emperor of China ordered a great courtyard to be built. This courtyard had to be grand and it had to include various landscapes that could be found in his empire. In order to follow this order and please the emperor, the royal subjects cultivated small trees to make the garden looks beautiful and realistic.

The small trees were greatly pleased the emperor. He even considered bonsai as one of his valuable possessions. Over the years, he was obsessed with it and he imposed a regulation prohibiting people to cultivate the plant. The penalty was death for anyone who dared to break this regulation. For a long period after this regulation was imposed, only people with power and money were given the right to cultivate the plant. As a result, a bonsai tree was considered as a valuable commodity in China for many generations.

These days, bonsai is still a valuable commodity for Chinese people because it is one of legacies that China has developed for the world. Some modern people, however, dislike the art of bonsai making because the process is similar like the practice of bonding the feet of women. During the ancient China period, women who had small feet were considered beautiful and thus they controlled the growth of their feet by wearing iron sandals, which was obviously a painful process. This confinement of the feet of women is similar like the confinement of bonsai plants. The plants are placed in small containers to limit their growth. As a result, some Chinese people are uncomfortable with the art of bonsai making.

The art of bonsai making in Japan

Other than Chinese, Japanese people are also well known for their ability in making bonsai plants. Around 794 to 1191 during the Heian period, Chinese people introduced the way to make bonsai to Japanese monks. They learned the process and started cultivating bonsai plants in monasteries. These monks were the first people in Japan who knew how to cultivate the plants.

The monasteries were visited by many people and they recognized the unique appearance of the bonsai. They wanted to know how to grow one and after some time, many people including the royal family started cultivating these plants. The plants were famous at that time and they became the symbol of honor and prestige among Japanese people. Even today, bonsai plants still decorate the houses of rich and influential Japanese people.

Cindy Heller is a professional writer. To learn more about various types of bonsai trees, please visit indoor bonsai care.

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