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Bonsai is a Japanese art form which involves miniature trees grown in containers. The purposes of bonsai are primarily contemplation and the pleasant exercise of effort and ingenuity. Unlike other plant cultivation which primarily focuses on a production of food or medicine or creating a garden or a landscape, bonsai focuses on long term cultivation and shaping of one or more small trees growing in a container.

A Bonsai is created beginning with a specimen of source material. A bansai can be any perennial woody-stemmed tree or shrub species that produces true branches and can be cultivated to remain small through pot confinement with crown and root pruning. There are some species that are more popular bonsai material because they have small leaves or needles that make them appropriate for the compact visual scope. Bonsai does not require genetically dwarfed trees, but rather depends on growing small trees from regular stock and seeds. Bonsai uses cultivation techniques like pruning, root reduction, potting, defoliation, and grafting to produce small tress that mimic the shape and style of mature, full-size trees.

There are many stories that date back centuries about bonsai trees, there are even bonsai dating to the 17th century that have survived to the present. One of the oldest known living bonsai trees, considered one of the National Treasures of Japan, is in the Tokyo Imperial Palace collection. A five-needle pine known as Sandai-shogun-no Matsu is documented as having been cared for by Tokugawa Iemitsu.

Follwing World War II, a number of trends made the Japanese tradition of bonsai more and more accessible to Western and world audiences. Currently, Japan continues to host regular exhibitions with the world’s largest numbers of bonsai specimens and the highest recognixed specimine qulity. Another trend was the increase in books on bonsai and related arts, now being published in English and other languages for audiences outside Japan. The number of clubs outside of asia increased once Japanese was no longer the sole language of bonsai, and interaction increased between members of all levels of expierence. The increasing availablitly of expert bonsai training also led to the spread of the art of bonsai.