Bonsai (in Japanese: 盆栽): miniature tree grown in pot. This is real japanese art, and we need to admit that it is sometimes hard to understand its essence. Some people are indeed revolted when they get to know that these trees are lashed, bent and cut so that they never reach their adult size.
In reply to this disagreement, a collegue once told me the following proverb:
Sakura kiru baka, ume kiranu baka
Which mean in English (I see your relieved faces):
Stupid is he who cuts a sakura,
Stupid is he who doesn’t cut a plum tree.
These japanese words of wisdom tell us that some trees need to be cut in order to bloom and flourish to their full extent. In the same way, bonsais need to be cut to grow harmoniously. The basic principle underlying bonsai cutting is to give to each branch and to each leaf its vital space, so it can grow without being hindered and without hindering others. Very japanese, isn’t it?