Documentary Film of Bonsai Apprenticeship—

In early 2004, when my apprenticeship with Shinji Suzuki was only four months gone, a TV crew came to make a documentary on apprenticing in bonsai. They focused on the gaijin, me, and after a couple days of filming came up with this eight minute piece that ran on a local channel. Afterwards, quite a few people I had never met before came up and said ‘Hi Michael!’, which was disorienting to say the least.

The film gives glimpses of what an apprenticeship is like; and yet a few parts are endearingly inaccurate— such as me leaving the studio after work to go to a restaurant, which happened only rarely. I think they wanted to give the feeling that apprenticing is relatively human, which it is not, really.

It is mostly in Japanese, except for some short bits where I speak English. And then there are parts where I speak some Japanese, and, well, I had only just gotten there and wince when I hear myself using the wrong words, if with the right intention… It’s also really weird to see yourself on film.

I hope you enjoy it–

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  1. Sam Ogranaja says:

    I bet it is weird to see yourself on film. I like how you kept notes of everything. Good recording is good insurance for later on.

    Have a great weekend bro

  2. Chris says:

    That looked like quite the burger! I didnt know they had those bad boys in Japan.


  3. bonsaijapan says:

    Interesting little segment, it must be a nice reminder of your time there.

  4. Scott Tice says:

    Kobe beef?

  5. I especially liked the way they still captioned your Japanese with Japanese.

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