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Bonsai Tree Meaning and Symbolism

Bonsai is a Japanese art that follows the 'penjing' technique practiced over a thousand years ago in China. For the cultivation of miniature imitations of trees, Bonsai uses horticultural and artistic applications. 

Bonsai uses symbolism to express his ideas and emotions. The meaning of these symbols is also difficult for the naked eye to interpret. Understanding Japanese aesthetics will help you understand the rich symbolism of bonsai art. The purpose is to build miniaturized plants and trees as seen in nature.

Over the last centuries, the Bonsai tradition has been perfected to reflect nature's esthetics such as balance, simpleness, and harmony.

Aging is one of the keys and essential aspects of bonsai. Bonsai uses a range of methods to produce miniature pictures of aging. The connection between the bonsai and trees in nature is symbolically shown.

Bonsai Tree Meaning and Symbolism

Balance in bonsai aesthetics

Balance is an essential element of the aesthetic of bonsai. The triangle is used to symbolize power and stability in the overall design. A triangle of isosceles with uneven sides producing asymmetry is used in bonsai. The asymmetrical triangle offers a sensation for the moment symbolizing the continuity of life. In Japanese culture, this random event is very important. It reflects freedom, consistency, and movement.

The simplicity in every bonsai design

Simplicity is found in almost every part of Japanese culture. The focus in Bonsai is mainly on esthetic ideas. It clearly says that nature and existence need not be ornamented excessively. The showpiece of bonsai should be the subject of the work. No colored pots need to be used or decorative elements placed on top of the soil. The tree itself is already amazingly stunning. Neutral tones convey the simplicity found in nature are the colors of the pots and the containers. The job is normally the focus to use these artistic skills.

The harmony of different bonsai design elements

Harmony, which can be seen in the composition of bonsai trees, is a very important part of Japanese culture. Bonsai makers pay careful attention to shape and texture standardization. The bark curves and the floating lines of the branches demonstrate that all the elements work in harmony. The Japanese prefer to build peace in a society and aspire to live in harmony. On the tray tree, the various elements that establish unity reflect different people's views. In keeping with the unity of the group, good harmony and peace are maintained.

Age in the aesthetics of bonsai

Bonsai Tree roots, trunk, and branches symbolize the various stages of life. Triumph over the natural elements of the trunks which separate the surface from an angle. The full, lush growth often reflects a young tree's vitality. The continuation of the tree growth can be symbolized by a dead tree trunk, strategically located within the composition.

The exposed roots of the bonsai tree reveal age and eroding. The roots keep growing in circles, moving the ground at an angle, reflecting the illusion of the age of the tree. The almost flawless trunk and sleek texture add to the youth and vitality. Lush growth symbolizes a youthful tree's vitality, while sparse growth symbolizes the reverse. The aged are treated politely in Japan. Several generations are under one roof in many Japanese homes. This is known to be one of the reasons why elderly people live longer in Japan.

The symbolism associated with bonsai style

The art of bonsai is a robust art in which everything has a symbolism and meaning. Bonsai trees are characterized by their style and shape, and each of them is a reflection of nature. Any aspect of the bonsai has a deeper meaning that leads to a larger narrative. The chokkan appears to have a straight, upright trunk, symbolizing a healthy, isolated tree. The emergence of the fukinagashi, blown by the wind, symbolizes the tree of heavy winds. The sinuous branches reflect the age of the tree and the passing of time. Even containers and decorations have been carefully chosen to reflect the various colors used in nature.

Bonsai Tree Meaning and Symbolism

Depending on the tree species, bonsai have different representations. Here are a list and symbolic meaning of the most common bonsai tree.

Azalea – Femininity, Abundance, Passion, Wealth

The azalea is a beautifully unique plant that works well as a bonsai. Because of its distinct flowers, azaleas are a symbol of femininity. The plant can represent first love and it can also represent an emotional vulnerability. It is a great gift for holidays devoted to women.

Boxwood – Immortality

Boxwood is an evergreen tree native to western Europe, North Africa, and West Asia. The tree represents immortality because it has slow growth, high longevity, and has leaves all year round.

Cedar – Immortality, Generosity, Protection, Strength

Cedar trees have great importance in many cultures, particularly for many Native American tribes. Cedar is associated with medical healing, protection, and prayer. Cedar leaves and bark are used as medicine. In Lebanon, the cedar tree is a sign of strength and eternity.

Cherry Blossom – Mortality, Female Dominance, Renewal

Cherry blossom trees produce delicate, pink flowers. They are a beautiful tree native to Asia. The cherry blossom tree has deep meaning in many Japanese people. It's the country's national flower and has deep cultural significance. Cherry blossoms hold an elevated status in several Asian countries and signify beauty and strength.

Chinese Elm – Harmony, Love

The Chinese Elm is native to Southeast Asia and can grow up to 80 feet. Because of its small leaves, it's a popular choice for bonsai. Chinese elms represent balance, love, and peace.

Ficus – Unity, New Beginnings, Abundance

The Ficus tree can be found all over the world and has a rich significance to many cultures. The tree symbolizes unity and abundance. Ficus trees are a popular choice for those who want to grow bonsai indoors.

Jade – Wealth & Prosperity, Good Luck, Friendship

A Jade plant is a succulent that symbolizes good luck and attracts wealth according to Feng Shui. It's a popular tree for bonsai due to its small size and tolerance for pruning. Having a Jade plant in the home releases positive energy. Jade plants can be commonly found in businesses to represent good luck.

Japanese Maple – Peace, Beauty

The Japanese Maple tree is a beautiful tree with bright red, yellow, and orange foliage. The tree has a significant cultural impact in Japan and has been a popular subject in art, poetry, and literature for thousands of years. Japanese Maple trees are symbols of peace and serenity in many Asian Cultures.

Juniper – Purification, Protection, Power

The Juniper tree is a coniferous plant native to England. It's an evergreen plant that is a good choice for bonsai. The tree grows berry-like cones that are used in rituals connected to good health and healing. It is also a symbol of protection and is known to ward off evil spirits.

Oak – Power, Longevity

Oak trees have been linked to powerful gods in various cultures. They are considered a storehouse of spiritual wisdom. Oak trees are good for bonsai because of their strong trunks, aged bark, and ability to endure constant pruning.


The bonsai art offers a strong balance of shape and honors the shaping physiology. There are meanings and symbolism for any aspect of a bonsai. Each detail creates a subliminal message and the entire story helps to construct the design of the bonsai tree. Bonsai is often influenced by the forces of nature and society and the environment.