Japan is well-known as the homeland of technological advancements and rich culture that keeps mesmerizing the minds of people all across the globe through its infinite and profound wisdom and beauty.
Thanks to the mutual efforts of the Japanese people for bringing the art of bonsai to the world and promoting Japan through bonsai, connoisseurs of fine art and gardening from different cultural and national backgrounds have been able to enjoy another dimension exquisiteness and pleasure.
But in order to understand the true contribution of sharing bonsai with the world, apart from promoting the country of the rising sun, we need to search deeper than what meets the eye at the very first sight.
Bonsai to the World: The Gift of Wisdom that Speaks a Universal Language
Yasunari Kawabata is a highly respected Japanese writer who has won a Nobel Prize for Literature in 1968.
He shares a deeply empathetic view on the way industrialization and urbanization have impacted the relationship between people and the living nature.
According to Yasunari Kawabata, “walls of concrete” have separated people from each other, resulting in blocking “the roads to connection and love.”
Furthermore, this has resulted in defeating Nature “in the name of development.”
But as we ought to know fair well (despite the fact that we often tend to neglect this profound knowledge faced with the busy pace of modern-day life), there can’t be any real progress if we destroy our natural habitat along with the unique abundance of plant and animal species.
Each of the species that form the flora and fauna of planet Earth has a key role in sustaining the vital balance of the forces of nature.
Many of the people across the globe seem to have forgotten that harming ecosystems results in harming ourselves and depriving the younger generations of a peaceful and beautiful future. However, this is not the case with the Japanese nation since Zen Buddhism preaches utmost respect and care for the living nature.
The influence of Zen Buddhism can be clearly seen in the art of bonsai.
Attaining patience, calming down the mind and appreciating the imperfect perfection in life is just part of the postulates of Buddhism. More importantly, these core concepts can be turned into traits that build up a person’s character by practicing the art of bonsai.
By promoting Japan through bonsai, the Japanese are actually handling all of us an invaluable gift – the gift of appreciating and finding balance and harmony, and thus, working towards re-establishing the vital relationship between mankind and Nature.
Video by Best Documentary – Japan The Way of Zen: Zen Buddhism Documentary
Bonsai Fairs and Expos
Neither bonsai nor other incredible cultural characteristics of Japan were well-known outside the borders of the Country of the Rising Sun before the 19th century. It was then that the bonsai tree was popularized through various fairs and expos.
In fact, the practice of holding bonsai exhibitions started back in Kyoto in the late 18th century where a traditional show for exposing dwarf pine potted trees took place annually. Local participants would bring one or two bonsai plants that were judged, ranked, and admired by the rest of the visitors.
This beautiful tradition was continued within the next century, extending far beyond the borders of Japan.
Along with the extension of bonsai exhibitions’ reach and increase in popularity, Japan not only managed to promote the art of bonsai to the world but also to promote the country itself as the homeland of this one-of-a-kind art form.
Nowadays, Kyoto continues to hold annual bonsai exhibitions that attract connoisseurs of the ancient art from all over the globe.
A tradition that goes way back in time but has been solidly rooted in modern-day society, bonsai shows a vibrant and deeply meaningful part of the many faces of Japan.
It took a lot of efforts, dedication, and consistency for the local people to be able to promote Japan through bonsai.
For instance, the first bonsai nursery that was publicly run – the Omiya Bonsai Village in Saitama, consists of a total of five bonsai gardens, some of which have been operating ever since the 1800s. Through the mists of time, bonsai is the Japanese gift to the world that spreads not only the subtle perceptions of beauty and mastery but also profound meaning about the very essence of life itself.
Video by Planetyze – Japan Best Spots Travel Guide – Bonsai Village, Saitama | Japan Travel Guide