Although the bonsai art has long been associated with Japan, actually originated in china, and then it spread eastward, reaching Korea and Japan. The art of bonsai came to these regions through Buddhist monks who wanted to bring the “outside” inside the temples. From ancient paintings to manuscripts, there are records that these artisan trees were cultivated around 600 AD, although there are historians who believe that bonsai, or at least potted trees, were cultivated in China from 500 or 1000 BC. . The first Japanese bonsai dates from XII century.
It is no coincidence that this artisanal crop originated in China. The Chinese always loved flowers and plants, and the country naturally has a rich flora. The Chinese had a passion for gardens, and in fact many of these were grown on a miniature scale, including small trees and shrubs that were pruned to maintain the balance of the garden.
The development of Chinese and Korean pottery played an important role in the development of bonsai as we know it today. Without the development of these beautiful containers, bonsai trees would not be as admired as they are today. Bonsai (盆栽) means literally “Tree in a container”. The tree and the container form a unit.
The art of bonsai has evolved and developed along different lines between China and Japan. Chinese bonsai continues the ancient tradition, and usually appears to be shapeless. On the other hand, the Japanese style is more pleasant and naturalistic. Japanese trees are mostly more refined and pruned. Both types have their peculiarities.
In the post-war era the bonsai seen in the United States and Europe were of Japanese origin. The monopoly that Japan had until recently has begun to be shared with several countries, although the quality of Japanese trees continues to be superior.