Vicarious Bonsai Apprentice


Merry Christmas!  It’s a beautiful Christmas morning in the Northwest .  It’s 8:55am and the rising sun is shinning on my backyard highlighting a large white birch tree and a firey orange midwinter dogwood.  The backdrop is a darker cloudy sky with some openings of blue.  Although my yard is a mess with the dormant plants and dead leaves still to be removed, the picture of this morning is awesome, and these moment reminds me why I love the Pacific Northwest.

I mention this because, I’m in the middle of rereading (or maybe I never finished reading it in the first place, everything seems new), Michael Hagedorn’s  book “Post-Dated -The Schooling of an Irreverent Bonsai Monk.”  Michael tells his experience as a bonsai apprentice in Japan.  Once ( or twice) I have fantasized of going to Japan and becoming an apprentice with one of the bonsai masters there.  Thinking of my circumstances here, family, business, and home in the US, the possibility of apprenticing in Japan is just that, a fantasy.  Plus living here is the Pacific Northwest, will be hard to give up for a couple of years.

I will settle to be a “vicarious bonsai apprentice”.  I will pretend to be an apprentice in Japan through the experience of others,  that is, through Michael’s experience as he tells it in his book.  Of course, there is much to learn about bonsai techniques that I will not learn from Michael’s book, but vicariously experiencing the life of an apprentice through his book will satisfy my fantasy at this time…. or forever.

Today is Christmas and the holidays makes me aware of all the food and parties.  I think of the terrible feeling of heavy full stomach during this time.   Michael, tells a story about going out to dinner with Mr Suzuki’s (his bonsai master) clients.  One of the client was a very generous old guy who bought dinner for them at a grill and eat restaurant.   I feel Michael’s pain, as he hesitantly eat more fatty meat than his stomach can stomach just  not to be rude to Mr  Suzuki’s client and embarrass his master.   That experience alone confirms that being a vicarious bonsai apprentice will  do me just fine.

Published by tony bonsaiko

My little trees are my daily reminders of our grand connection to this beautiful and mysterious universe.

2 thoughts on “Vicarious Bonsai Apprentice

  1. I think I’ve read Michaels book three times! lol. It’s a good read, and one of the reasons I chose to study with him. I honestly think we can get just as good of an education here from the folks who put in time over there. We get the advantage of having them explain things to us, along with hands on. — I just wish I lived a bit closer; but the collecting out here is well worth the sacrifice.

    1. Dan, you’re probably right about the education here. I’m seeing a trend of more resources here, both teachers and great bonsai materials. I envy where you’re at, you get to see and collect great materials. I will have to stick with urban yamadoris for now. Tony

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