What does Oyakata (親方) mean?

This explains a lot

Peter Tea Bonsai

I was in the workshop last night talking to Mr. Tanaka about the, “Apprentice Life.”  We talk about it a lot because that is the usual answer when I have to do something, or not do something because I’m an apprentice.  As we were talking, a topic came up that really surprised me.

For those that don’t know, I refer to Mr. Tanaka as, “Oyakata.”  I never call him Mr. Tanaka, or Tanaka-san, or even Sensei.  Bonsai apprentices just don’t do that.  As we talked, he looks at me and ask, “Do you know what Oyakata means?”  I’ll have to admit that it actually caught me by surprised because I never really had to explain what it meant to anybody.  My understanding was that a Oyakata is someone that is somewhere between Boss and God.  I told Mr. Tanaka my definition and he shakes his head and said his usual…

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