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Bonsai theft: Japanese couple robbed of 400-year-old tree

A Bonsai in Washington.Image copyright
Getty Images

Image caption

Bonsai trees can live to be hundreds of years old (file picture)

Two Bonsai enthusiasts have launched an emotional plea to thieves who stole seven trees from them, offering care instructions for their “children”.

Seiji Iimura and his wife Fuyumi said the prized miniature trees were taken from their garden in Saitama, Tokyo.

“There are no words to describe how we feel,” Mr Iimura wrote. “They were precious [to us].”

The tiny trees are believed to be worth over 13m yen ($118,000, £91,750), CNN reported.

Stemming from East Asia and often associated with Japan, Bonsai is a delicate art-form based on specialist cultivation techniques.

The miniature plants are grown in containers that mimic the shape of fully-sized trees, and require expert care.

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One of the couple’s stolen trees is a Shimpaku Juniper – one of the most sought-after Bonsai types among collectors and enthusiasts. It is said to be worth over 10m yen ($91,000; £70,720).

“Our Shimpaku lived for 400 years, it needs care and can’t survive a week without water,” Mrs Iimura wrote on Facebook on 24 January.

“It can live forever, even after we’re gone. I want whoever took it to make sure that it’s properly watered.”

She confirmed to BBC News today that their trees are still missing.

“We are sad and forlorn but we will continue to protect our Bonsai” Mrs Iimura wrote. “In the meantime, we will continue cultivating trees worthy of everyone’s praise.”

On Facebook, fellow gardeners and bonsai collectors reached out to the Iimuras to express their sympathy and solidarity.

“Unforgiveable,” said one. “These thieves do not know what it means to steal a bonsai, let alone seven. All the tender loving care goes with the theft.”

“Bonsais are meant to be revered and celebrated and should be beyond human greed. I am heartbroken to read this,” wrote another.

Image copyright
Getty Images

Image caption

There’s even a dedicated Bonsai village in the couple’s home of Saitama, Japan

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