For one man, upholding the Japanese bonsai tradition dating back over a thousand years in this rapidly advancing world is a task that should suit the times.

That is why budding bonsai craftsman Masashi Hirao readily accepts his role as the black sheep bringing something cool to a world resistant to change. He is, as the Japanese proverb goes, a stake that sticks out and gets hammered down.

A late bloomer as a bonsai craftsman, Hirao began his career at the age of 22, and it was by pure chance that he decided to explore the world of bonsai — the miniature landscape of ornamental trees.