Bonsai (盆栽) is the Japanese and East Asian art of growing and training miniature trees in containers, developed from the traditional Chinese art form of penjing (盆景). The word bonsai itself is a Japanese pronunciation of the earlier Chinese term penzai.
Bonsai originated from the Chinese practice of penjing, which dates back to the Tang dynasty (618-907 CE). The earliest illustration of a penjing is found in the Qianling Mausoleum murals at the Tang-dynasty tomb of Crown Prince Zhanghuai, dating to 706.
Bonsai was introduced to Japan by Buddhist monks and diplomats who visited China during the Kamakura period (1185-1333 CE). The Japanese adapted the Chinese technique to suit their own aesthetic preferences and cultural values. Bonsai became a symbol of harmony between nature and human beings, as well as a form of meditation and contemplation.
Bonsai can be created from nearly 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. Some species are popular as bonsai material because they have characteristics, such as small leaves or needles, that make them appropriate for the compact visual scope of bonsai.