What is Bonsai? The word ‘Bon-sai’ is Japanese and literally translated it means ‘planted in a container’. As a Japanese art form it is deeply rooted in Zen Buddhism and exists for well over a thousand years. The ultimate goal of growing a Bonsai tree is to create a miniaturized but realistic depiction of nature, using techniques such as pruning and wiring. Bonsai are not genetically dwarfed plants, in fact, any tree species can be used to grow one.