The Bonsai Master Myth...

Bolero

Chumono
Messages
988
Reaction score
979
Location
Plymouth, Michigan
OK guys.... what really Constitutes a Bonsai Master versus Just a really expert Gardener ?
Any good Nursery will have Thousands of Starter Plants, Trees, Shrubs, Etc......
Swiss Mountain Pine AKA Mugo is a good example...
So if I go out and buy several Mugo's and begin Growing them do I become a Bonsai guy ????
At what point do I transform from a Bonsai guy into a Bonsai Master, Is it when I start a Nursery selling a lot of Starter plants and call them Bonsai ????
 

Bolero

Chumono
Messages
988
Reaction score
979
Location
Plymouth, Michigan
Let me return this question: why does it matter? Why should it matter? What value does the title hold?
Being considered a Bonsai Master implies that you know everything there is to know about Bonsai Growing, Training, Styling, Showing and it gives Tremendous Credibility to the Individual...Justified or not...
 

BunjaeKorea

Chumono
Messages
953
Reaction score
1,244
Location
Korea
USDA Zone
7a
A master is one who is recognised to have the skills at a level of master by a relative accreditation from a national bonsai association or one recognised as such through years of proven ability and ranking within shows.
For commercial purposes in Asia a "master" is one with the relative recognition as given by the National Bonsai Association of the country in question.
 

Bolero

Chumono
Messages
988
Reaction score
979
Location
Plymouth, Michigan
I think growing a Tree or Shrub in a Pot is an Artistic Venture or as Wire Guy says a Cultured Venture and Bonsai and Bonsai Master is a much overused expression, I think Wire Guy nails it with his Signature...
 

BunjaeKorea

Chumono
Messages
953
Reaction score
1,244
Location
Korea
USDA Zone
7a
I think growing a Tree or Shrub in a Pot is an Artistic Venture or as Wire Guy says a Cultured Venture and Bonsai and Bonsai Master is a much overused expression, I think Wire Guy nails it with his Signature...
You are entitled to your opinion regardless of how irrelevant it may be.
 

Forsoothe!

Chumono
Messages
924
Reaction score
821
Location
Michigan
USDA Zone
6b
It's not myth, it's a classification of recognized education and experience. Just because Americans don't have that particular curriculum available in the US doesn't mean it doesn't exist. The rest of us are amateurs, not an insulting term, just a description of someone who does something at a level that doesn't meet a particular standard of professionalism established by those who are recognized by enough people to meet the the standards. Insiders always set the standards in every endeavor and bless those who meet their standards. The Insiders are in the far east, so that's where you have to study if you want to be certifiable. There are very good amateurs just as there as Masters who are not as good as others. I've been told that I'm certifiable by people who don't even know I'm into bonsai. Go figure!
 

rockm

Imperial Masterpiece
Messages
8,821
Reaction score
10,332
Location
Fairfax Va.
USDA Zone
7
OK guys.... what really Constitutes a Bonsai Master versus Just a really expert Gardener ?
Any good Nursery will have Thousands of Starter Plants, Trees, Shrubs, Etc......
Swiss Mountain Pine AKA Mugo is a good example...
So if I go out and buy several Mugo's and begin Growing them do I become a Bonsai guy ????
At what point do I transform from a Bonsai guy into a Bonsai Master, Is it when I start a Nursery selling a lot of Starter plants and call them Bonsai ????
Is that gas leaking?...sure smells like it.
:rolleyes:
 

Bolero

Chumono
Messages
988
Reaction score
979
Location
Plymouth, Michigan
It's not myth, it's a classification of recognized education and experience. Just because Americans don't have that particular curriculum available in the US doesn't mean it doesn't exist. The rest of us are amateurs, not an insulting term, just a description of someone who does something at a level that doesn't meet a particular standard of professionalism established by those who are recognized by enough people to meet the the standards. Insiders always set the standards in every endeavor and bless those who meet their standards. The Insiders are in the far east, so that's where you have to study if you want to be certifiable. There are very good amateurs just as there as Masters who are not as good as others. I've been told that I'm certifiable by people who don't even know I'm into bonsai. Go figure!
OK, Now we also have Bonsai Far Eastern Insiders to ponder as well as Bonsai Master's....
So studying, learning & being approve by an Insider in the Far East is the Key to becoming a Bonsai Master ???
No American educated, learned, experienced can be a Bonsai Master ???
 

Adair M

Pinus Envy
Messages
11,148
Reaction score
23,370
Location
NEGeorgia
USDA Zone
7a
OK guys.... what really Constitutes a Bonsai Master versus Just a really expert Gardener ?
Any good Nursery will have Thousands of Starter Plants, Trees, Shrubs, Etc......
Swiss Mountain Pine AKA Mugo is a good example...
So if I go out and buy several Mugo's and begin Growing them do I become a Bonsai guy ????
At what point do I transform from a Bonsai guy into a Bonsai Master, Is it when I start a Nursery selling a lot of Starter plants and call them Bonsai ????
Bolero, this is a more difficult question to answer than it seems on the surface.

The easy answer is there are organizations who can declare a person is a bonsai Master. In Japan, if a person has served an apprenticeship under a Certified Master, and has performed satisfactorily, the Nippon Bonsai Association can award a certificate stating that the person is a Master. Such a Certification is pretty much required in Japan to be able to operate a bonsai business.

There is a similar process in Korea.

These can almost be seen as a license to practice bonsai professionally. Kinda like having a license to practice medicine, law, or sell real estate.

There is nothing comparable here in the US. There are a few teachers who have a structured program of education, but they can’t compare to 5 years of 7 days a week full time work that an apprentice in Japan endures.

I have completed Boon’s Intensive program, and have a “certificate of completion”. I had to attend all the classes, pass a written test, and complete styling a tree to Boon’s satisfaction. While I am proud to have completed the course, I would NOT say that completing the course qualifies me for Master status.

There are only a handful of Certified Masters, as designated by the Nippon Bonsai Association, in the US. As far as I know they are Kathy Shaner, Kinji Murata, Boon, Bjorn, Matt Reel, and Tyler Sherrard. Note that Ryan Neil is not! He’s certainly qualified, it’s just that Kimura never put him up for it. He felt that since Ryan wasn’t going to set up shop in Japan, and having the Certificate isn’t required in the US, he didn’t need to nominate Ryan. I feel Ryan was screwed. He put in the time and effort, and certainly has the skills. It says something about Kimura, though.

So, can person not trained in Japan be considered a Master? I think everyone would agree that John Naka was considered a Master. It’s a difficult question. So, I think my answer is “It depends”!

And for the secondary question, the difference between a bonsai Master and expert gardener, is Bonsai is much closer to creating a sculpture than gardening.
 

Dav4

Drop Branch Murphy
Messages
10,153
Reaction score
17,436
Location
North Georgia/lived in MA until 2009
USDA Zone
7b
Bolero, this is a more difficult question to answer than it seems on the surface.

The easy answer is there are organizations who can declare a person is a bonsai Master. In Japan, if a person has served an apprenticeship under a Certified Master, and has performed satisfactorily, the Nippon Bonsai Association can award a certificate stating that the person is a Master. Such a Certification is pretty much required in Japan to be able to operate a bonsai business.

There is a similar process in Korea.

These can almost be seen as a license to practice bonsai professionally. Kinda like having a license to practice medicine, law, or sell real estate.

There is nothing comparable here in the US. There are a few teachers who have a structured program of education, but they can’t compare to 5 years of 7 days a week full time work that an apprentice in Japan endures.

I have completed Boon’s Intensive program, and have a “certificate of completion”. I had to attend all the classes, pass a written test, and complete styling a tree to Boon’s satisfaction. While I am proud to have completed the course, I would NOT say that completing the course qualifies me for Master status.

There are only a handful of Certified Masters, as designated by the Nippon Bonsai Association, in the US. As far as I know they are Kathy Shaner, Kinji Murata, Boon, Bjorn, Matt Reel, and Tyler Sherrard. Note that Ryan Neil is not! He’s certainly qualified, it’s just that Kimura never put him up for it. He felt that since Ryan wasn’t going to set up shop in Japan, and having the Certificate isn’t required in the US, he didn’t need to nominate Ryan. I feel Ryan was screwed. He put in the time and effort, and certainly has the skills. It says something about Kimura, though.

So, can person not trained in Japan be considered a Master? I think everyone would agree that John Naka was considered a Master. It’s a difficult question. So, I think my answer is “It depends”!

And for the secondary question, the difference between a bonsai Master and expert gardener, is Bonsai is much closer to creating a sculpture than gardening.
Damn, Adair... don't look him in the eyes!!! Bolero should be allowed to have these conversations by himself... just like the wild eyed dudes screaming at nothing on the New York subway.
 

Atom#28

Mame
Messages
119
Reaction score
191
Location
Eastern WA
USDA Zone
6b
Being considered a Bonsai Master implies that you know everything there is to know about Bonsai Growing, Training, Styling, Showing and it gives Tremendous Credibility to the Individual...Justified or not...
Bullshit. I don't find this to be true at all. In my experience, "Masters" of any craft tend to be people who, while highly skilled, also recognize that one can never 'know everything there is to know', and that learning is, in fact, not a means to an end....It is an endless process.

I also find myself wondering why some people are so concerned with labels such as "master", and "true bonsai trees". I know its in our nature to label and categorize everything.....but in this case, what purpose does it serve?
 

misfit11

Chumono
Messages
556
Reaction score
246
Location
Petaluma CA
USDA Zone
15
There are only a handful of Certified Masters, as designated by the Nippon Bonsai Association, in the US. As far as I know they are Kathy Shaner, Kinji Murata, Boon, Bjorn, Matt Reel, and Tyler Sherrard. Note that Ryan Neil is not! He’s certainly qualified, it’s just that Kimura never put him up for it. He felt that since Ryan wasn’t going to set up shop in Japan, and having the Certificate isn’t required in the US, he didn’t need to nominate Ryan. I feel Ryan was screwed. He put in the time and effort, and certainly has the skills. It says something about Kimura, though.

So, can person not trained in Japan be considered a Master? I think everyone would agree that John Naka was considered a Master. It’s a difficult question. So, I think my answer is “It depends”!
And even though Ryan doesn’t have the accreditation I think most people would consider him a master. Simply because he’s attained that level of mastery.
Does Walter Pall have any formal accreditation? I’m not as familiar with his background as others. I’m not even sure if he’s done any apprenticeship in Japan. Especially considering his dedication to the naturalistic style I would say no. Regardless, I think most people would consider him a master.
I’m a member of REBS and we’re very fortunate to have Kathy Shaner as our sensei. She, as you mentioned, is recognized as a master through the Nippon Bonsai Association. I think on paper it’s great to have this accreditation because it carries some sort of weight and adds prestige. But I don’t think it matters on the day to day. She’s a great bonsai artist and I have great respect for her. That being said, there are others who’s style and skill level speaks more to me. Many of these people don’t have any official recognition as a master.
I have a masters degree. Unfortunately, that doesn’t amount to a hill of shit if I don’t have a job or any real life skills to back it up with.
 

rockm

Imperial Masterpiece
Messages
8,821
Reaction score
10,332
Location
Fairfax Va.
USDA Zone
7
I find the whole "Master Gardener" thing basically bullshit. It's 40 hours of classes...and three months of your time on and off...and 40 hours per year of volunteer work. Has no bearing on your actual ABILITY as a gardener...
Kind of different in the competitive world of professional bonsai in Japan...
 

Similar threads


Top Bottom