Whoa! This is one gorgeous and OLD bonsai. I am guessing Rhododendron.Rhododendron bonsai Have you ever owned a bonsai? You are lucky to receive this as a gift but on the other if you've never owned one you got set up for heartbreak. This is not an inexpensive bonsai! This is akin to being given a PET for a gift.
You have to talk to your friend. You need to find out where they purchased this then go have a talk with the nursery...sometimes these are found in a booth in the middle of a mall or a garden show. So you have to hurry. Don't be shy.
First question is; is this indoor or outdoor? This is a big deal. If this was an indoor plant and you put it outdoors without acclimatization or if this was an outdoor plant keeping it inside without acclimatization could easily kill it. Acclimatization is very lengthy for Bonsai. But where would you start? Gotta know where this plant came from and talk with the guy that sold this to your friend.
That guy that sold it had better know how this gorgeous plant was cared for, when the last time it was fertilized, root pruned? Bonsai pretty much needs watering every day or at least every other day I kid you not. That big plant sucks up the water like crazy and there is not much soil to hold water for more than a day. It is hard to see the scale of this bonsai but someday you will need to know enough to be able to continue with this plant's form process. Root pruning, training the height and width, transplanting (which doesn't happen often at all), wrapping copper wire to form that twisted look, better foundation for sure than just a few rocks sitting on top of the soil.
Is this plant 18" or maybe 2' in height? Trying to gauge the size by your backsplash. That is huge for a bonsai...I'd guess this guy is at least 4 to 5 decades old! A guess for sure and that is young for bonsai. I could be way off but at least one decade old for sure.
Another cool thing about Rhododendron (or its cousin azalea with smaller leaves) is that it can flower profusely. Quite the treat where bonsai is concerned. I can't imagine all this work for an indoor rhododendron bonsai because lots of light is necessary for the flowering you'll see in the images I sent in the link. Far more light than indoors by a window.
Fertilizer is very tricky. The only chemicals this plant can get for photosynthesis is right there in that tiny pot. You have to discover how much and how long ago this plant was fertilized. Just a little too much and you'll kill your bonsai.
Watering is tricky as well. I watered by putting the pot into a larger bucket of water to soak. Allowing it to stop bubbling. Pouring water to water bonsai tends to wash away gravel and water needs time to soak into the soil. Otherwise it just washes off the top of the soil. Not enough water for the plant.
Jerome, I think someone really likes you an awful lot. This is a very NICE gift if not a bit misguided. Another positive is that you will now become a gardener whether you wanted to or not! Bonsai is the ultimate test of gardening. The most artificial and human intervention heavy of all plant stewardship. You just might fall in love with this 'hobby'...
Ask your 'friend' where they got this!! If they had purchased a puppy to give you you'd want to know where they got that puppy and the breed and how it was raised, was it already wormed, vaccinated, neutered before you got to take over the responsibility, yes? To not ask your friend might just mean the death of this plant. They are very very sensitive and one misstep might make you and your friend very sad. Gosh, hate to be such a downer but this is not like any old houseplant or patio plant!
A super article on rhododendron and azalea bonsai