Fuyumi Iimura has a message for whoever broke into her family’s expansive garden outside Tokyo and made off with a small fortune’s worth of some of the planet’s most beautiful bonsai trees:
Please water them.
Over a period of several nights, a team of bonsai bandits stole the cream of Iimura’s collection, regarded as some of the most exquisite in existence, CNN reported.
It was like losing a child, Iimura said in a Facebook post. The only thing worse would be if the trees weren’t properly cared for and centuries’ worth of work withered away 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 in the grief-stricken post on her Facebook page, referring to rare junipers that were stolen. “They can live forever – even after we’re gone, if they receive the proper care.”
Clearly, the thieves knew what they were doing in last month’s heist. They stole a total of seven trees, but those were the most expensive in Iimura’s collection, according to CNN. Combined, the plants were worth $118,000 but could fetch much more on illicit markets.
“We treated these miniature trees like our children,” Iimura said. “There are no words to describe how we feel. It’s like having your limbs lopped off.”
Iimura’s husband, Seiji Iimura, is a fifth-generation bonsai master whose family has been cultivating bonsai since the Edo period, which ended in 1868.
Fuyumi Iimura’s Facebook profile is full of pictures of bonsai trees: mature trees in their garden, younger specimens and pre-bonsai seedlings at a greenery fair.
But if the bonsai were children, the shimpaku was clearly the favorite, a 400-year-old cover model of a tree whose undulating lines are straight out of a storybook.
In this file photo taken on April 29, 2017 a visitor takes pictures of a bonsai displayed at the 8th World Bonsai Convention in Saitama.
Shimpaku junipers, which are increasingly endangered in the wild, are found in difficult-to-access cliff areas, according to the World Bonsai Friendship Federation. Stories that sound like mythical fables abound of bonsai collectors risking their lives on Japanese mountainsides to collect the trees.
The Iimuras’ shimpaku had a similar backstory.
It had been taken from a mountain more than four centuries ago, and Iimura’s family had gradually culled the tree down to its current size, three feet tall and more than two feet wide.
It …read more