Bonsai are commonly understood to be dwarfed, potted trees after a Japanese fashion.
But, oh, they are so much more than that.

Magical Miniature Landscapes  =  Enchanting Little Sceneries

=  a secure and pleasurable concentration and distillation of the setting in which we dwell,
a deeper expression of a part of that reality existing outside of the framework in which reason feels comfortable.

Most of what we call "bonsai" are inhabitants of the outer regions of the Magical Miniature Landscapes.
The truly heart and soul-moving compositions -- which can only be determined by each individual -- live in the deeper interior.

       That group of arts which originated in Asia as individual expressions of spiritual places manifested and concentrated into representations that are made with either living components (bonsai, penjing, saikei, etc.) or inanimate ones (bonkei, suiseki, viewing stones, etc.) or a combination thereof, which have certain spatial, temporal and physical characteristics reflecting the relationship of Heaven, Humans and Nature, and whose forms are generally portable by way of a tray, container or stand.

       Ideally, visible human-intervention is at a minimum and blends aesthetically with the nonhuman components.  The design and care of these landscapes can be done by oneself or with others in virtually any location for enjoyment and/or profit, and with or without understanding of the history and symbolism involved.

       Those things known as "ming trees" made with metal, glass, plastic, fabric, deadwood, and similar substances are mere echoes or shadows of these landscapes.  Floral arrangements, including ikebana, are philosophical cousins of these landscapes.

This Website was established April 12, 1999 as .

Changed early December 2000 to .

Transferred late February 2016 to .

Would you like us to link with you?  Is your site truly unique, does it have more useful information than most other sites,
is it really more helpful than any of the sites linked throughout this website?  Those are our criteria for adding new links.
If still interested, please contact
If your site has historic value and might be a worthy addition to our Bonsai Book of Days project, contact us.

If you have any comments or suggestions on the information or presentation at this site
(including how to make the site easier to use and get around on, or areas of research you'd like us to explore),
have discovered any broken or bad links, are interested in making a non-English mirror site, have suggestions on how to improve this site,
or want to find out more about any of this, please e-mail us at .
We'd love to hear from you and how this website has been of interest or help to you.  Thank you.

      The notes for this project were begun in early 1986 as part of a modest effort to compile a grand history of the art, something which was not known of by this author at the time.  Much of the resulting researches are now being made part of this site, an ultimate reference work accessible by persons sharing this interest worldwide.  Queries to a dozen and a half publishers in the mid-1990s resulted in the awareness that this project -- some 600 single-spaced pages on all aspects of the history from neolithic China up through the near future -- was simply too detailed for most in-print markets.
      Growing experience with the Internet has uncovered a repository for this history which can be kept updated with many new discoveries and which can be presented in a fashion that no printed volume or two could ever hope to manage.  Not all of the notes will make it to this site and the many planned illustrations will slowly be forthcoming.  What is growing here is the record of the heritage of those arts in which we all are involved.
      It is just a coincidence that we now have a bit over 700 pages on this website.  There is still much background information in our old notes that hasn't yet been incorporated here, and in the past decade we've uncovered much material that we were not aware of in the mid-1990s.  We look forward to adding more from both our print-origin and Internet-origin notes.
       Some of what has been and what has not yet been included in the history of these arts is presented here.  It will be for future researchers -- using these pages as a solid starting point -- to further compile and analyze, interpret and portray these events.
       An in-print version of the highlights of these notes/pages is being considered...
---  Robert J. Baran 

"Exhibition Visitors"
They come each year
to see a little more
what the trees
have always been.

(RJB 03/1991)

The spirits of a million dwarfed trees
dancing in ten thousand tokonomas
are here with us now,
dear friend.

(RJB 07/1989)

And ye shall take great care in
making these landscapes,
For many different wee folk do find
hearth and home among these tiny woods.

(RJB 08/2011)

Assumptions Used on this Website
(added 09/19/2005)

* The history of bonsai and related arts can be told, but it has not yet been adequately noted elsewheres by others.
* This website can and will tell the detailed and intricate international history which is an ongoing, evolving, interdependent series of events and not just a listing of unrelated occurrences.
* Dated events as found in various chiefly-English language specialty magazine articles and books can be used as a basis for detailing this history because these include material from knowledgeable Japanese and Chinese sources.
* At least two different sources are preferred for each event 1) as a double-check of the accuracy of the information and 2) to provide details that a single source does not provide.
* Nonspecialty sources such as books or articles in print, on the Internet, in personal communications, or in video/electronic media (primarily for the Boldly Grow section) can be used for additional credible details.
* Practically any historical account does not include the entire relevant story because of 1) space constraints, 2) availability of material concerning the event, 3) the point of view of the author, 4) ongoing errors in previous versions, and/or 5) old or new political/economic biases in the telling of the account.
* Whenever possible, we will specifically note what we do not know about some particular event.
* This information is presented for open access, free of charge because this site is for educational and scientific purposes, and the academic interpretation of copyright laws, public domain, etc. shall apply as long as sources used are fully cited and acknowledged.
* The compilation of history can be aided by way of the [non-politicalized] scientific process and this site shall neither be beholden to any particular point of view nor shall it endeavor to give equal though inaccurate weight to every view.
* The scientific process proceeds by 1) observing and noting what one observes, 2) devising a hypothesis which explains ALL of the observations, and 3) adjusting the hypothesis until it explains all additional observations, some of which having been predicted on the basis of the hypothesis.  Observations which are not explained by the otherwise satisfactory hypothesis must not be automatically discarded as faulty, but should at the very least be kept visibly present with questioning until each of them is explained by a modified hypothesis or their true nature otherwise determined.  Such is the reason for the Anomalies section.
* A few separate pieces of information today may be joined together tomorrow in whole new ways of being interpreted by the addition of a new source or two.
* Any of these events recorded on this website may still be subject to additional comments, corrections, and commentary.
* Corrections are made to this information as soon as reasonably possible once we are notified by a credible source of our error or incompleteness.

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