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The art of kokedama

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By AMY ELLIS

Kokedama, or “moss ball”, is an ancient Japanese art form that is derived from the practice of bonsai. The beauty of exposed bonsai roots, which would accumulate moss over time, was the inspiration behind kokedama. It was colloquially referred to as “the poor man’s bonsai” as it was a simpler, more affordable way for people to enjoy the tranquility of a Japanese garden in their homes.

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Photo: iStock: Zummolo

The concept of kokedama began as a way for Japanese people to stay connected to the forest while living in the city. The lack of man-made pots surrounding the plant mimics the natural environments in which plants grow and embodies the idea of mother nature being self-sufficient. In Japanese culture, moss symbolizes longevity, something that flourishes over time and is in harmony with its surroundings. 

These rustic spheres of nature are a perfect reflection of wabi-sabi, which loosely translates as finding beauty in natural imperfections. Sculpted by hand, a misshapen ball of soil encompassing an asymmetric plant is then wrapped in nature’s blanket. Kokedama is a true appreciation of wabi-sabi.

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Photo: iStock: Zummolo

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These are beautiful, and they sound easy enough to make and take care of. (Unfortunately, I have whatever the opposite of green fingers are.)

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