About 2000 years ago the first bonsai trees should have been planted already in trays in China. In China people mentions the miniaturised creation of bonsai trees Pensai. Besides, the typical growth forms of the tree vegetation are postformed in some provinces as a Pensai. In other provinces Pensai are formed rather in weird, symbolical shapes, for example, in dragon’s figure. China had traditionally a great influence on the cultural development of Japan. Thus the Buddhism could gain a foothold beside the state religion of the Shinto rather early in Japan. The first Pensai was brought to Japan through walking monks of the Zen Buddhism. In the culturally very open imperial city Kyoto noble ladies and gentlemen soon dealt beside the art of the Ikebana and the tea ceremony with the small bonsai trees.
In the 17th and 18th century the Japanese bonsai art reached their peak. It had become a part of the Japanese way of life. Bonsai had served to better understand the nature and to improve in appearance. The main factor in the development of the bonsai was the restriction on the most important parts of the plant. All apparently dispensable parts were removed. The removal of all insignificant and the reduction on the essential elements for the final improvement was symbolic for the Japanese philosophy of that time. Bonsai developed in different style directions which considerably differed of each other. Bonsai artists attempted more and more culturally important elements like rock to realise accent works.
After more than 230 years of the global isolation Japan opened at the middle of 19th century to the rest of the world. The travellers came back from Japan and had seen the miniature trees in the ceramic containers which copied ripe, high trees in the nature. Then at the end of the century exhibitions followed in London, Vienna and Paris. Especially the Paris world exhibition in 1900 announced bonsai to the wide world public. The inquiry for bonsai started to rise rapidly. The lack of natural small-grown trees led to the commercial production of the bonsai. Several basic styles asserted themselves. The bonsai artists made use of wire, bamboo canes and other technologies to influence growing, shaping and developing.
Still today bonsai is highly respected as a symbol of the japanese culture and ideals. Nowadays in Japan bonsai is not left any more only to the upper class, but has asserted itself in all social classes. Japanese incline especially with pleasure to use only native species for their bonsai trees. In particular pines, azaleas and maple are looked as the traditional bonsai trees. In other countries people are not fixed and uses also many other tree species for growing bonsai under the most different climatic conditions. Particularly in last decades the development of the bonsai was going on. The bonsai world has become smaller. All over the world people began, whether in Asia, in Europe and in the United States, to discover bonsai as their hobby. In the meantime, bonsai art also reflected the great variety in predilections and characteristics of the most different countries and their cultures.