400-year-old bonsai tree worth $120K stolen, owners beg thieves to water it

A bonsai tree pictured in this undated file photo. Getty Images

A Japanese couple has been left grief-stricken after seven bonsai trees were stolen from a garden, including a 400-year-old shimpaku juniper. The pair is urging the thieves to take care of them.

The trees were stolen from the couple’s garden in Saitama, near Tokyo, and are valued at over $155,000 CAD, according to CNN. Fuyumi Iimura, wife of the bonsai master who crafted the trees, told the broadcaster the 400-year-old shimpaku juniper tree was worth almost $120,000 alone.

“We treated these miniature trees like our children,” the woman said. “There are no words to describe how we feel. It’s like having your limbs lopped off.”

The thefts occurred over the course of several nights last month, leaving Iimura to speculate the thieves were professionals and knew exactly what they were looking for. According to CNN, the couple has about 3,000 bonsai trees on their 5,000-hectare property.

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The distressed woman posted on Facebook, asking for people to keep an eye out for their beloved trees while providing care instructions for the thieves.

“I want whoever took the bonsai to make sure they are watered,” she wrote. “The shimpaku lived for 400 years. It needs care and can’t survive a week without water. They can live forever – even after we’re gone, if they receive the proper care.”

Bonsai is a Japanese art form that involves growing small potted trees that mimic the shape of full-size trees.

The trees are meticulously groomed and tied from the time they are saplings to create the desired appearance. Bonsai sculptors often incorporate moss, stones or other ground cover in the pot to create a natural look and help the tree grow. Bonsai trees can live for generations and are often handed down between family members. The trees often look similar to how they would grow in the wild, but on a smaller scale.

As of Tuesday, Iimura confirmed to the BBC police have yet to locate her missing trees.

–with a file from the Associated Press

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