While the art of bonsai has long been associated with Japan, it actually originated first in China, and then eventually spread to Japan. Conceived by Buddhist monks who wished to bring the outdoors inside their temples, these plants are said to have roots as far back as 500 to 1,000 BC.
The term bonsai literally means, tree in a tray. The tree and container form a single entity. To create this miniature version of the tree, the bonsai must be placed in a smaller container to create the dwarf size.
The tradition of bonsai came to the west from Japan and China in the 19th Century at the Third Universal Exhibition in Paris in 1878 and later exhibitions in 1889 and 1900. This increased awareness of this beautiful art led to the first major bonsai exhibit in London in 1909. At the end of World War II, bonsai gained popularity as soldiers brought them home from Japan as gifts for their loved ones.
Today we can find bonsai throughout the western world, symbolizing serenity and sophistication.