Plea to Tree Thieves: Please Water the Bonsai

Japanese couple mourning loss of 7 'tree babies'
By Arden Dier,  Newser Staff
Posted Feb 12, 2019 8:55 AM CST
A shimpaku juniper is seen at the North Carolina Arboretum in Asheville.   (Wikimedia)

(Newser) – Victims of a recent theft in Japan have a plea for the thieves: Please water our "tree babies." Seiji Iimura, a bonsai master whose family has dabbled in the art form for centuries, and his wife, Fuyumi Iimura, are sharing detailed care instructions for seven miniature bonsai trees stolen from their property in Kawaguchi last month, though they suspect professionals are responsible, per the New York Times. The "most valuable trees" worth $122,000, including a rare 400-year-old shimpaku juniper valued at $90,000, were snagged from a sea of 3,000 bonsais spread over 5,000 hectares, per CNN. "They can live forever—even after we're gone, if they receive the proper care" so "I want whoever took the bonsais to make sure they are watered," Fuyumi tells the outlet.

Indeed, Fuyumi says the shimpaku "can't survive a week without water." The tree, now rare in the wild, was taken from a mountain centuries ago by her husband's family, who crafted it into an award-winning miniature at 33-inches tall. Seiji, 54, has cared for the bonsai, which was to appear this month at a beauty competition, for the last 25 years. Perhaps destined for the black market, it was one of four shimpakus stolen alongside three miniature pine trees called goyomatsus. "I now feel like our limbs were taken away, and miss them every day," Fuyumi tells the Times, noting "bonsai are like our children." The couple has added security cameras to their property, and are planning to build a fence. They say they're also considering a siren. (This bonsai survived Hiroshima.)

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