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Bonsai (盆栽 ← Japanese: Bon tray[?] + Sai gardening) is the art of growing trees and plants, reducing the size by pruning and forming to create an aesthetic shape and the illusion of age.

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The art of bonsai originates from China over two thousand years ago, where it has been called penzai and written in the same Hanzi that gave rise to the Kanji above. It was brought to Japan 700 years ago. Bonsai spread to Korea during the Tang or Song Dynasty (the 7th - 13th century), and is now called Bunjae (분재).


A bonsai is not a genetically dwarfed plant. It is kept small by shaping and root pruning. A properly maintained bonsai will outlive a full size tree of the same species. However, a bonsai needs much care, and an improperly maintained bonsai will probably die.


In the art of bonsai is where a sense of aesthetics, care, and patience come together. With these qualities, the artist can guide the plant into growing even highly intricate Chinese characters, such as 壽, "longevity", in various styles, but usually cursive.

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