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From the 6th century onward, Imperial embassy personnel and Buddhist students from Japan visited and returned from mainland China.
They brought back many Chinese ideas and goods, including container plantings.
This indicated use of a fairly deep pot, rather than the shallow pot denoted by the eventual term bonsai.
The 1195 scroll Saigyo Monogatari Emaki was the earliest known to depict dwarfed potted trees in Japan.
Wooden tray and dish-like pots with dwarf landscapes on modern-looking wooden shelves also appear in the 1309 Kasuga-gongen-genki scroll.
Over time, these container plantings began to appear in Japanese writings and representative art.
In the medieval period, recognizable bonsai were portrayed in handscroll paintings like the Ippen shonin eden (1299).