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The End? I Think Not!

Updated: Oct 8, 2020


As you all know by know (hopefully) I am in my second year as an apprentice at Aichien.  It’s been great being here and it’s had its ups and downs but that’s also the typical life of a Bonsai apprentice.  Recently I had a long conversation with Mr. Tanaka and he told me that after June of 2013, I do not have to be a full time apprentice anymore!

WHY???  Well, the good news is that it’s not for bad reasons! Hahaha.  Mr. Tanaka said, “Peter, your level is already at about a 5th year apprentice.  If you stayed for 3 more years, you’d just feel like a laborer as opposed to a learning apprentice.  By June, I won’t be able to teach you much more (yeah right!).  I want you to stay the full five years to help me but it wouldn’t be fair to you.”  I shockingly thanked him and said that I will always be learning and he seemed to take comfort in that.  After more discussion, we came to agreement that I was to become a full time professional Bonsai artist back home in June of 2013 but travel to Japan a few times a year to help out and continue learning what I can (which I was planning on doing with the rest of my life anyways).

So there you have it!  What was suppose to be 5 years in Japan is now… June of 2013!

Suddenly I’m planning for the future now!  Lots of things to think about and lots of advice to take from good friends. 😉

So What Now?

Well, for the mean time, I will continue what I’m doing at Aichien and absorb as much information as I can.  I am truly honored that Mr. Tanaka feels that my skills are good enough to end my apprenticeship early.  I find myself day dreaming every now and then about what the future lies for me.  It’s all very exciting and sad at the same time because I will also be leaving the nursery.  The nice thing though is that I will always have a home in Japan!

3 in 1

I feel very fortunate to have great Bonsai artist and teachers in my life.  I would have to credit Mr. Boon Manakitivipart for teaching so much and preparing me for Japan.  The transition was smooth and I was able to get right to work.  On the Japanese side, I’d have to credit Mr. Junichiro Tanaka, my Oyakata for continuing my education and teaching me even more.  Two really great artists teaching little o’l me!

In a way, I felt like Boon was my bonsai father and sent me off to another nursery to study. I have the teachings of both Boon and Junichiro and I became the hybrid version of both.  I now have the opportunity of using the best of both teachers with the addition of my own vision and ideas.  I feel so fortunate to have this combination because it has taken me so much deeper into understanding Bonsai that I feared may have never happened if I were to only have one teacher.  The experience has been great  and I look forward to the experiences of tomorrow and beyond.

What About the Blog?

The Blog will continue!  When I’m in Japan, I will share information and the things I do just as I had before.  When I’m in the US, I will do the same with the addition of what life is like as a Bonsai professional.  That should add a few more interesting topics in the future!

Aichien Apprenticeship Program?

Currently, we have booked students till June of 2013.  Once I’m home, the apprenticeship program will change but those changes are still unknown at the moment.  Mr. Tanaka and I want to keep it going but have yet to figure out all the details.  There will be more information in the coming months here and on the Aichien website.

Full Term Apprenticeship Now Available?

Since I will be leaving next year there is room for a new full time apprentice.  If you or someone you know is serious about becoming an apprentice and looking for a way into a Japanese apprenticeship, this may be the perfect opportunity.  We won’t just accept anyone and the person Mr. Tanaka wants as an apprentice has to be ready to work, ready to learn and have a level head.

Please send serious inquiries to and we can discuss further details.


As time passes and June gets closer, I will reflect back on what I’ve learned and how I’ve developed as a person having spend two years in Japan.  The apprenticeship didn’t just teach me about bonsai, but a lot about myself.  During the rest of my time here, I’m sure I’ll write a post or two about my overall time and my future plans as things unfold.

If you have any questions, please write them in the comment section below and I’ll answer them there.  🙂

Thanks for coming along for the ride!


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