The End? I Think Not!

The End? I Think Not!


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.

Mr. Junichiro Tanaka

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.

Mr. Boon Manakitivipart


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.  🙂

and me

Thanks for coming along for the ride!


There are currently 983 subscribers reading the blog.  I hoping the 1000 mark will come soon and just wanted to thank you all for following my journey from the past and into the future!  Thanks and take care!

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44 thoughts on “The End? I Think Not!

  1. hase8876 says:

    Congratulations Peter!!!!

  2. Mike Page says:

    Congratulations Peter! You will now reap the rewards of hard work and study.
    haiku for you

  3. lieuwe says:

    Congratulations. Allready looking forward to your posts as a profesional. Sounds interesting to be an apprentice over there. Did you receive my e-mail by the way? Greetings from holland

  4. Ray Stagner says:

    Hey I’m so proud of you.. You have accomplished so much in such a sort time. Can’t wait to see you state side. Take care, see you in June.

  5. Peter,

    Congratulations! I’ve been reading your blog for about a year now, and its really the best resource for bonsai information available. You’ve always made clear points and added a great deal of detail to help us out along the way. Quality information about bonsai is more accessible than ever online and your blog is a huge part of that. Keep up the good work and make sure to post your appearances when you come back home, I’d love to buy some of your time and knowledge if you’re ever near D.C.

  6. sorcerain says:

    Nice Peter – You are an artist, and beyond that, a fabulous teacher!

    I will come see you in CHICAGO.

    Wherever you go and grow, American Bonsai will benefit.

    Very nice,

  7. Congratulations Peter! Wish I could do the apprenticeship. I need this kind of teaching but none near my area.

  8. DonErickson( says:

    Dear Mr. Tea Congratulations on finishing your internship early. I have been following your posts since they began. I’ve learned a lot of new methods to try with my trees. Yes, I know they have been around for many years but the way you presented the concepts much easier to grasp. I belong to the Willamette Valley Bonsai Society in Salem, Oregon and am currently the vice president in charge of programs. I know June is a long time to wait for however, as the program director I am always looking for programs for our club. The Portland Art Museum is sponsoring a large display of bonsai at the Artisans Cup of Bonsai Exhibition on October 4,5,and 6, 2013. I was wondering if you are planning on being in attendance. If so I would like to work with you to schedule a time when we could have you present to our Society when you are in our area.

    Don Erickson Salem OR

  9. Pierre Kaufke says:

    Congratulations, Peter! pk

  10. CJ says:

    Well done, Peter. My congratulations and best wishes.

  11. vince hahlbeck says:

    Peter, it’s going to be great having you back home! Congrats!

  12. Steve Moore says:

    Congratulations! And I hope you can visit the Great Lakes area in the not-too-distant future.

  13. Mike Arakaki says:

    I could tell from your posts that you were really good from the start. It always seemed like Junichiro made just small adjustments to your work, more “fine tuning” of your skills. Man, you remind me of one of those kids that skipped a grade in school because they were so advanced. Congratulations, you’ve done the USA proud! I hope you get a chance to come to Hawaii! Keep up the good work!!!

  14. Marcelo A. Campos says:

    Peter, the book I suggested to you is exactly about expertise development. One of the poins is: expertise depends on “social inclusion” (the knowledge is socially shared and evolves at a context social, wich must be shared to keep expertise). I insist you will benefit (and Mr Tanaka too) reading. best regards marcelo


  15. says:

    Hi Peter CONGRATULATIONS !!!!! What an honor to have Mr. Tanaka speak so highly of your accomplishments. We are not surprised however, as it was a great experience working with you in Milwaukee. Hopefully the club will have you back again soon. We wish you the best in your very near future, whatever that might hold.! regards, Chris and Judy Hughes

  16. Donald Rodriguez says:

    Great news!!! I always thought you were way ahead of the curve. Looking forward to your workshops when you return. Sign me up.


  17. Aaron says:

    WOW! Congratulations Peter! What an incredible achievement. Can’t say I’m surprised… your gift for bonsai is obvious.

    Hopefully when you are on the east coast we can get you up to Toronto for a couple days. I will keep in touch.

  18. Daniel Dolan says:


    I realize this was a dramatic revelation by Mr. Tanaka and will certainly take some time to process. I find in situations like this there is always a ready sports analogy……and I would like you to think about the idea that you are now “free agent.”

    That said, I am sure you will be receiving offers from organizations in California, Oregon, Washington, but I would like you to consider a new idea…………Chicago.
    The challenges here are far greater and more interesting.

    Anyone can make a Bonsai in California…….they pretty much grow by themselves. But in Chicago you will be tested by heat, cold, wind, pests, fungus, scarcity of material, lack of supplies, public insensitivity and ……I mentioned the cold already, right. We do have good pizza though.

    Let me know what you think……and I am still waiting for a recommendation on a supplier for pumice.

    Best regards,

  19. cherylas2009 says:

    Congratulations Peter! the community will welcome you back to the states as a professional to continue the overall improvement of professional bonsai and continue the improvement process of our trees

  20. Mary Miller says:

    Peter, congratulations. Will look forward to your blog continuing!

  21. Congratulations Peter, what a great news to hear! 🙂 I’m sure you’ll be a very good bonsai teacher, best wishes!

  22. Ryan says:

    Mr. Tea
    I found your blog at almost the exact time I began my own bonsai saga. It was right when you started it. I have been a religious reader and look forward to every new post. I missed you coming to the Marin club as i joined, no joke, the following meeting. I am curious if when you are through if you will be coming back to the bay area to teach? If you are I want you to know that I expect to be one of your first new students. Congratulations
    Humbly, Ryan

    • Peter Tea says:

      Hi Ryan and Thanks!

      I’ve worked with the Marin club before and they are a great group of people. When get back, I do plan on teaching in the bay area and anywhere people would have me. I’m happy that you’ve taken up bonsai and are enjoying yourself. I hope to meet you in person in the near future! Thanks again and take care!

  23. Dirk says:

    congratulations, thanks for the great flow of fantastic information and for letting us follow your dream from a distance. I hope more posts will follow. Have a good time…

  24. Jeff Lahr says:

    What a surprise and an honor. I’m happy for you, Peter. Looking forward to gaining from your expertise once you’re back in the states.

  25. Rick and Mary Smith says:

    Hi Peter! What wonderful news! We are very excited for you. Of course, there was never any question as to the talent you had hidden inside. It just took a Master to bring it to the surface. We hope to see you back in Napa soon. All the best…Rick and Mary Smith:>

    • Peter Tea says:

      Thanks Rick and Mary for the kind words. I’ll be good to be home and seeing good friends again. I’ll be back to continue the study group so I’m sure we’ll see lots of each other in the future. Take care to both of you!

  26. Penny Pawl says:

    congratulations Peter!

  27. Candace Key says:

    Hi Peter, Congratulations! This is really amazing, but then I guess we knew all along what a special talent you have. I know there is a very excited study group in Marin eager to put you to work when you return.

    • Peter Tea says:

      Thanks Candace!

      I’m looking forward to heading back home and spreading the word of bonsai! Nothing’s more satisfying to me than working with great people and seeing bonsai improve. Thanks and I’ll see you in the near future! Take care.

  28. Frank says:

    Congratulations Peter. That’s Great News . America will be lucky to have another teacher to bring up the level of bonsai in the US. Wishing you the best !

  29. Barry Dixon says:

    Congratulations on your accelerated graduation Peter ! and a great relief for all your loyal blog followers that you intend to keep it going
    do you have any plans to make it down to Australia at some stage ?


    • Peter Tea says:

      Hi Barry,

      Thanks for the kind words! We’ve had four people from Australia alone make it over for the apprenticeship program so I see great things happing in Australian Bonsai. I’d love to travel there is someone would have me. ;o) I’m sure I’ll be there sometime in the future, if not for bonsai, for a good relaxing vacation!

      Thanks Barry and I’ll keep the post coming. Take care.

  30. Frank Kelly says:

    Congratulations Peter on your forthcoming ‘graduation’. Good luck on your future journey as a bonsai professional. Like Scott I look forward one day to seeing you in beautiful Canberra – home of the National Bonsai and Penjing Collection of Australian (NBPCA) which moves into its new permanent building in February 2013 [ ]. I have enjoyed you blog and please keep the information coming.

    • Mary Miller says:

      I would love to include the Australian exhibit on my website, please contact me,

      • Frank Kelly says:

        Hi Mary,
        Thanks for your interest in our Collection. I am a Senior Volunteer but it is probably best to contact the Curator of the NBPCA (Mr Grant Bowie) and he can be contacted at or the Assistant Curator is Leigh Taafe and you can reach him at
        We opened in our temporary home in September 2008 but are excited to be moving to our new permanent building in February 2013.
        I met Peter Tea on my visit to Japan last year for ASPAC Takamatsu and Taikan ten in Kyoto and have enjoyed his excellent articles since I returned home.
        Our club is hosting the Australian National Bonsai Convention in May 2013 and our headliner demonstrator is Ryan Neil – see more info at
        regards, Frank Kelly

  31. Mac says:

    Impressive promotion Peter! I look forward to being able to attend one of your presentations when you are established in the US and travel to the Eastcoast to teach.

  32. Taylor Mack says:

    Congratulations on the great news! From reading your blog for the last 8 months, I can say that you will make a great bonsai teacher. Hopefully in the future I will be able to attend one of your workshops.

  33. Congratulations Peter!

    We’ll have to get you out to Australia soon!

  34. Richard Green says:

    I can’t congratulate you enough. I wish you well on your own and I continue to look forward to your updates and articles in the future. Not only have you successfully furthered your educated in the art of bonsai but I’m sure there are many like myself that are grateful that you have shared your knowledge educating us as well.

  35. Al Polito says:

    i second Greg’s motion. Contact me at Politomail at gmail if you’d like to discuss a Portland Bonsai Society meeting.

  36. Great news Peter! I hope you can join us in Portland soon!

  37. Sandy Vee says:

    Ah! Can I be your student again??

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