Nihon-teien, compared to Western gardens that are laid out geometrically, are laid out placing importance on the natural view.
They mainly imitate of the natural world, with heaped-up earth likened to mountains, ponds to oceans, and with rivers made by drawing water; some also incorporate a tea garden with arranged stepping stones and stools. In addition, there is the dry Japanese garden as one of representative styles of nihon-teien.
This is a type of gardens that do not use water and express landscapes only with rocks and the sand.
Hills and waterfalls are expressed by rock constructions, and rivers are expressed by making marks on spread white sand with bamboo brooms to depict water flowing.
In the Muromachi Period(1392-1573), it was influenced by landscape painting imported from China, and many were designed as entry-way gardens for Zen temples.
Bonsai are miniaturized potted plants and trees for aesthetic appreciation and are an art form unique to Japan.
The pine tree is cited as typical, but all sorts of other plants and trees are nurtured.
When the roots have grown too long, the plant is taken out of the pot, cut, planted in fresh dirt, the branches are diligently pruned, and wire is sometimes wrapped around the trunk and branches to shape them to the desired configuration.
To keep this up as the trees and plants grow, they are handed down across several generations.
To complete the ideal shape requires a considerable amount of knowledge and labor, even for an expert, but it has an intimate appeal as a hobby.
In Japan, it is chiefly taken up as a hobby by those in middle and old age, while in the United States it is also popular among young people.