I love the art of bonsai and I have been practicing it for several years. I quite honestly have come to love bonsai so much, that I talk about it all the time with my friends. Here is a brief history that might help open your eyes to my passion. During the 6th century in Japan, Buddhist students and the Imperial Embassy personnel returned to China with several souvenirs, one of which was a potted tree. There were 17 known diplomatic missions that were specifically sent to the Tang Court from Japan between 603 A.D. and 839 A.D. With so many places with bonsai trees for sale, it is important to know the history of the art of bonsai. The Japanese believe that a tree cannot reach its true potential of beauty if it is left growing in nature. The tree must be potted and shaped in order to achieve balance and harmony with nature. The earliest known scroll from Japan to depict a Ňdwarfed potted treeÓ was dated to the year 1195 A.D., although some historians believe it is from 1250 A.D. In these depictions, there are dwarfed landscapes on wooden shelves inside dish-like pots. The drawings are thought to flaunt the wealth of the owner and are probably imported exotics from China. During the invasion of the Mongol Empire into China, many bonsai artists moved to Japan, where the Song Dynasty culture was safer and actively studied. Buddhist monks came to the monasteries to teach, and practice the art of miniature landscapes. They saw it as an ideal accomplishment for men with a taste for learning and peace. In 1300 A.D. a rhymed prose was written which termed these miniature trees bonsai. The Japanese used these bonsai, which were miniaturized trees grown in containers, to provide decoration for the gardens and homes. In 1331 A.D., several criticisms were made of bonsai to further critique this form of art in growing popularity. These criticisms were eventually written on a scroll, which became part of a sacred teaching that was handed down from master to student through generations. These criticisms were not widely published until the 17th century, when they had a profound effect on bonsai making.