Thursday, March 11, 2010
Why are Japanese Trees Small?
Many Japanese trees are small because they are dwarfed by the Japanese art of bonsai. This art consists in training and growing dwarf trees as symbols of the Japanese ideal of the immersion of the self in nature. This ideal also finds expression in their poetry, the tea ceremony and flower arranging.
The tiny trees express quietness, beauty of shape and line, and the changes brought about by the seasons. They must look old, with a sturdy yet shapely trunk which has bark of an interesting color and texture, and well-exposed roots. There must also be a proper feeling of scale. This means short needles on conifers, tiny leaves on deciduous trees and small flowers or fruit. Lastly, there must be open space between branches and between masses of foliage.
The word bonsai means tray-planted. The art goes back more than 1000 years. It originated in China and spread to Japan in the 12th Century. During the 19th Century many Westerners came to admire bonsai. But it was not until the end of the Second World War that it became really popular in the western world. Bonsai societies were established in many countries, and many Japanese families now maintain a flourishing overseas trade.