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Thieves Steal 400-Year-Old Bonsai Trees Worth $118,000 in Japan


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    A heartbroken bonsai owner has an impassioned appeal to those who stole her beloved bonsai trees if they could “please water them.”

    Fuyumi and Seiji Iimura, a fifth-generation bonsai cultivator, lost seven trees from their garden situated just outside Tokyo, Japan, CNN reports.

    The still unknown team of bonsai thieves reportedly stole $118,000 worth of the finest trees from Iimura’s collection, which has been regarded as some of the most beautiful bonsai trees in the world.

    Posting on Facebook, Fuyumi wrote how the incident felt like losing a child, noting that it would only be worse if the trees weren’t properly cared for. She was concerned that centuries’ worth of work would be for nothing just because of neglect.

    “I want whoever took the bonsai to make sure they are watered. The shimpaku lived for 400 years. It needs care and can’t survive a week without water,” Iimura said, particularly referring to a rare plant that was among the stolen.

    “They can live forever – even after we’re gone if they receive the proper care.”

    It is apparent that the thieves who stole the most expensive trees in Iimura’s collection over a period of several nights know how valuable their entire loot was.

    “An individual well-versed in bonsai must have been involved in the theft,” Seiji Iimura told local media platform Asahi Shimbun.

    The rare shimpaku juniper was the most expensive, valued at 10 million yen ($91,000), and the total haul was worth 13 million yen ($118,000). The plants can even fetch a higher price on the black market.

    “We treated these miniature trees like our children,” Iimura was quoted as saying. “There are no words to describe how we feel. It’s like having your limbs lopped off.”


    The family of Iimura’s husband, Seiji has reportedly been cultivating bonsai trees since the Edo period, which was around in the 1800s.

    The Iimuras’ prized shimpaku was brought down from a mountain more than four centuries ago. Generations from limura’s family had reduced the tree over the years to its current size, which is now less than a meter (3 feet) tall and more than 60cm (2 feet) wide.

    Despite the celebrity status of some of the plants, the Iimuras have kept the farm open to the public. The couple also did not implement restrictive security measures so fans can admire the plants up close.

    Due to the burglary, the Iimuras are expected to make some changes in their garden’s security soon.

    Featured image via Facebook/Fuyumi Iimura

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