Practiced for over 1200 years and developed through the impact of Japanese culture, tradition, and esthetics, the art of bonsai keeps confidently paving its way into the modern-day world of the 21st century.
And while the foundation of the ancient art of growing miniature trees in miniature pots remains the same, the types of bonsai enthusiasts have changed over the years.
Even though it is impossible to put the connoisseurs and practitioners of bonsai into strict frames, there are three kinds of bonsai fans that stand apart from the rest when it comes to shaping the contemporary face and future development of bonsai.
The three kinds of bonsai fans that we are about to discuss below are based on the way visitors of the Ōmiya Bonsai Art Museum in Japan interact with the ancient art of bonsai.
1 – The Dedicated Aficionados of Traditional Japanese Esthetic in Bonsai
Undoubtedly, the true fans of bonsai are those who have spent a long time studying and indulging in the traditional Japanese esthetic of bonsai.
These type of bonsai fans would visit bonsai fairs and expos with the clear purpose of getting acquainted with and enjoying bonsai tree masterpieces that have been cultivated for generations.
This kind of bonsai fans would get more excited by what can seem like an old, unappealing bonsai to the newbies or commercial-scale bonsai fans; for this kind of bonsai, fans are searching for values that extend beyond what is merely visible to the eye when contemplating a bonsai tree masterpiece.
A dominant percent of these people can be called hardcore or dedicated fans of bonsai because most of them have been personally growing bonsai trees themselves.
It is estimated that this group of bonsai fans consists of different nationalities – some of the people come from Japan while others are keen bonsai aficionados from Europe and America, among others.
The age group of these fans also varies – many of them are 40+ years old. However, in the recent years, it has become more common for people of the young generations aged 20+ to become a part of this particular group of representatives of bonsai fans.
Video by National Geographic – The Art of Shaping a Bonsai Tree | Short Film Showcase
2 – The Occasional Bonsai Enthusiasts
Unfortunately, there are many bonsai enthusiasts who don’t really take the time or simply lack the nerve to dig deeper into understanding the true value of the art of bonsai.
Also, it is sometimes due to lack of trust-worthy information regarding the tradition and esthetic of bonsai tree masterpieces that the second group of bonsai fans shapes as only occasional bonsai enthusiast – meaning many of these people would hardly become bonsai tree gardeners themselves and/or might end up disappointed by what they see in bonsai fairs and expos.
This possible disappointment is, then again, due to the fact that the expectations of this type of bonsai fans do not meet the reality of bonsai best practices.
With this in mind, it is important to highlight that the true essence and beauty of bonsai is not found in anything that is too bright or “screaming” for attention – a common feature of the Western-style culture.
This can be partially related to the term “cultural identity” which refers “to the culture with which someone identifies and to which he or she looks for standards of behavior” as pinpointed in a study published on the National Institutes of Health website.
So when people are allured by the commercial point of possessing a bonsai tree, they often remain only occasional bonsai fans. For in most cases, they do not appreciate bonsai as something that really stands apart from any other indoor plants that are used to add greenery to a living or office space.
3 – The Mesmerized Bonsai-Tree-Garderners-to-Be
The third kind of bonsai fans is intricately related to the group we have just discussed above – the occasional bonsai enthusiasts.
The difference between these two groups of bonsai fans comes with a form of transformation that is being experienced after visiting a bonsai museum/fair/expo.
Although starting off as occasional bonsai enthusiasts, many people become so mesmerized and inspired by getting acquainted with the true spirit of bonsai that they turn into future bonsai tree gardeners and passionate aficionados of the Japanese tradition and aesthetic in the art of bonsai.
It is estimated that this kind of bonsai fans are usually 30-40 years old and that they commonly opt for purchasing their very first starter bonsai tree from a nearby nursery soon after getting enchanted by the magic of bonsai cultivation.
Also, this type of bonsai fans is often further interested in studying more about the Japanese culture where traditions, natural attractions, and cut-edge modern-day technologies go hand in hand.
Video by visitjapan – JAPAN – Where tradition meets the future | JNTO
The Three Kinds of Bonsai Fans: Final Thoughts
Indeed, there is much mystery and deep symbolism in bonsai – and these important features impact the way people understand and appreciate bonsai. This is also what has gradually shaped the three kinds of bonsai fans we listed in this article.
But without any doubt, things are not only black or white – there is much more room for development and further interpretation on that matter since the world of bonsai keeps expanding, just like the different kinds of bonsai fans out there.