Bonsai is an ancient Japanese art form using miniature trees grown in containers. Similar practices exist in other cultures, including the Chinese tradition of penjing and the miniature living landscapes of Vietnamese hòn non b?. While traveling in Vietnam, I expected to see bonsai, but the size of the plants was unexpected. They, for the most part, were huge. Most I saw were in the eight-handed or Imperial class (60 – 80 inches high) or the six-handed or Hachi-uye class (40 – 60 inches high.) The plants were on display in people’s front yards, as well as Buddhist Temples, and government buildings. Large sized bonsai are evident throughout the country from Hanoi in the north to Saigon and the Mekong Delta in the south. Many of the specimens were not well trained or cared for but the plants seemed quite content in their large pots and tropical setting. Interestingly, were not many bonsai in Cambodia or Laos.
The slide show below has two examples of Hòn Non Bô, the traditional Vietnamese art of making miniature landscapes, imitating the scenery of the islands, mountains and surrounding environment found in nature.