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A bonsai tree, left, in a pot made by ceramic artist Masanobu Ando, was part of an exhibition in Gifu Prefecture that came together out of a sense of crisis Ando feels as the rest of the world takes the Japanese art in fresh directions. (Photo by Akira Takemura)

Bonsai: Japan's living art evolves as it emigrates to rest of Asia

In its home country, young artists try to free the craft from ancient traditions

MAKIKO TAKAKURA, Nikkei staff writer | Japan

TOKYO -- Teppei Kojima was a clothing buyer 10 years ago when he noticed a hot new trend in the West: bonsai. The expressive trees were being used as decorations in the fashionable boutiques he visited on business trips. Store managers would brag about them. "They are cool, aren't they?" Kojima remembers them saying.

But Kojima, now 41, also noticed something else. Many of the trees seemed to have never been pruned. He thought there might be growth potential in the bonsai business.

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