Bonsai (tray cultivation) is an ancient Japanese art of growing miniature trees by using containers. Dwarfing is often confused with this practice. However, dwarfing is actually a practice that is used for research purposes to create miniatures of plant species. Bonsai grows smaller trees from normal seeds and stock. Pruning, potting, root reduction, grafting, and defoliation are techniques that Bonsai artists use to create trees that have similar shapes and styles of full-sized mature trees.
There are many different styles of bonsai trees. The distinctions come from the different shapes that are formed by the trees' branches and all have different names. Many of these styles are shaped to imitate features of the natural world, like cascades and waterfalls. Bonsai is meant to be used to encourage contemplation, instead of being used to produce food, medicine, or yard or park-sized landscapes, like most other practices of plant cultivation. Bonsai's focus is on growing and shaping trees in containers over long periods of time. It is an art that can take a good deal of time and training to master..
During the 1970s, Bonsai experienced a resurgence in global popularity. Three periodicals began publication at this time. These magazines were called Bonsai Sekai, Shizen to Bonsai, and Satsuki Kenkyu. The first Gafu-Ten (Elegant-Style Exhibition) was held in 1975 and helped to promote Bonsai to regular people. This was the same year that another convention called the Sakufu-ten (Creative Bonsai Exhibit) was held. The Sakufu-ten was the first of its kind as it allowed the actual growers of the bonsai trees to display their work to the attendees of the exhibition event and be credited by their own names. This show was organized by a man named Hideo Kato and was held at Tokyo's Daimaru Department Store. The first World Bonzai Convention was held in 1980 in the city of Osaka. These events lead to global acceptance of the art of Bonzai. Today, there are more than one thousand books on the subject. They are published in over twenty-six languages and can be found in more than ninety nations around the globe. It is also the subject of dozens of magazines and the basis for many clubs and organizations.
Bonsai is accepted as a beautiful art form and a great way to find relaxation and refocus the mind. It is a unique art that is enjoyed by many people in Japan and around the world.