Bonsai are trees and plants grown in containers in such a way so that they look their most beautiful–even prettier than those growing in the wild. Cultivating bonsai, therefore, is a very artistic hobby. It’s also a good illustration of the gentle respect Japanese have for living things and an expression of their sense of what is beautiful. It’s much more involved than growing potted flowers, and requires a much bigger commitment–physically and emotionally.
All sorts of trees and shrubs are used as bonsai. In essence, any plant that can be grown in a small container can be cultivated as a bonsai. The most popular varieties are pines; maples, whose leaves change their color in autumn; flowering trees, like the cherry and plum; and fruit-bearing trees, like the quince and persimmon.