Well-crafted bonsai trees have always been an impressive sight to look at. These Bonsai Tree Castles, though, take the art a whole other level, turning erstwhile regular miniature trees into intricate infrastructures built around the trunks, boughs and branches.
Created by artist Takanori Aiba, the bonsai dioramas feature architectural elements that literally turn the trees into palaces fit for kings and emperors making their homes in the woods. That is, if they're really, really small. And don't mind living atop a ceramic pot, which you'll likely keep on top of a corner table.
Each Bonsai Tree Castle combines a variety of techniques using the tree as base to create the miniature living world effect. Some parts, Aiba carves right into the tree; others, he throws in appropriate materials for, including copper lines, clay, putty, wood, stained paper and cut-up cans. The results are pretty amazing, with the final products ending up as multi-level dwelling structures with elaborate architectural elements, like bridges, balconies and winding staircases.
Some of Aiba's latter works appear to have ditched the bonsais and just went straight to miniature architectural sculptures, none of which are any less awesome. You can find the rest of the the artist's work from his official website below.