Tree Hugger

“Like many Americans of his generation, Ryan Neil had discovered bonsai through the Karate Kid films. He was especially fond of the third movie in the series, which features dreamy shots of characters rappelling down a cliff face to collect a miniature juniper. In the films, the wise karate instructor, Mr. Miyagi, practices the art of bonsai, and in Neil’s young mind it came to represent a romantic ideal: the pursuit of perfection through calm discipline. One day, after seeing bonsai for sale at a local fair, he rode his bike to the library, checked out every book on bonsai, and lugged them all home.” OK, up until this point, Neil’s experience is pretty similar to every other kid in America. We rode bikes after watching Breaking Away, we worked out nonstop after watching Vision Quest, we bought blow dryers after watching Saturday Night Fever. But while the rest of us were waxing off to the latest trends, Ryan Neil ended up studying bonsai under a demanding master in Japan for six years. Robert Moor in The New Yorker: The Beautiful, Brutal World of Bonsai.

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