A Japanese couple's most prized possessions were taken from them. But rather than demanding for its return, they asked the thieves to care for it, instead.
Seiji and Fuyumi Iimura were devastated after seven specimens of bonsai trees worth 13 million yen ($118,000) were stolen from their nursery in Saitama, Japan.
One of the stolen specimens included a 400-year-old shimpaku tree, the most valuable of the lot that is alone worth $90,000.
It was to be entered in a Japanese beauty contest, according to CNN.
Seiji Iimura posted a photo of his "deeply important" bonsai and asked his Facebook friends to keep an eye out for it.
Fuyumi Iimura, the wife of the fifth-generation bonsai specialist whose family practice traces back to the Edo period between 1603 and 1868, said she and her husband were heartbroken.
"We treated these miniature trees like our children. There are no words to describe how we feel. It's like having your limbs lopped off."
Still mourning over the loss of their bonsai, she also took to Facebook to thank everyone for "all the words of encouragement."
And in the event the thieves happened upon her post, she asked if the bonsai trees they stole were being cared for.
"These bonsai that we raised like children, are they being watered properly?"
Iimura added that the trees will not survive after a week without water.
He tended to the bonsai tree for 25 years. Now a victim of theft, it could die within a week. https://t.co/QeV1lZQ9Pm— New York Times World (@New York Times World) 1549995182.0
@AFP @JustJessaSweet Even in raw pain and hatred, care for that which may never return.— Gabriel Gamarra (@Gabriel Gamarra) 1550021302.0
@AFP This theft could mean the eventual end of public viewing of valuable #bonsai. I hope these are returned - onl… https://t.co/9RbOorsAvg— luminaria98 (@luminaria98) 1549986997.0
Others around the world felt for the devastated couple, and asked for the thieves to return the coveted trees.
@AFP To whom it may concern I’m pleading with the thief that stole the 400-year-old bonsai tree Please just do what… https://t.co/aE0IKoJl4l— Merri (@Merri) 1550066818.0
@Gizmodo What the theft going to do with the tree? Sell it and get caught? What wrong with them... Just return back the tree!— R (@R) 1550048408.0
@AFPTokyo @AFP May the trees be returned and the thief punished. I once had a tree that was dear to me stolen. (… https://t.co/2oAzSelHJr— BEEGEE ginger YURIKO calico (@BEEGEE ginger YURIKO calico) 1550017665.0
@AFPTokyo @AFP This kills my heart! Please, please bring the baby Bonsi home!😙— Annamaeblessing (@Annamaeblessing) 1550031127.0
Others commented on the act of cruelty.
@Gizmodo People are unbelievably evil.— MinnesotaVoice ⚖️⏳ (@MinnesotaVoice ⚖️⏳) 1550033809.0
@AFPTokyo @AFP The thieves are evil to do this to the owner of these bonsai trees. Let's hope that they realise wha… https://t.co/Ypz5eV80rv— Simon (@Simon) 1550072264.0
@AFPTokyo @AFP Damn, that’s hella sad. People suck. 😢— ⚡️DJ Styles⚡️ (@⚡️DJ Styles⚡️) 1550039207.0
@TIME So sad for them. 😢 I bet it'll go to some loaded person with no conscience.— s carver (@s carver) 1550014366.0
Iimura also mentioned that the thieves were most likely professionals, who had enough expertise to identify their most valuable specimen to pilfer out of their collection of about 3,000 bonsai trees from their 5,000 hectare park.
Those who care for bonsai understand the profundity of such loss. These miniaturized trees, often confused with dwarfing, take years to cultivate and is a Japanese practice dating back thousands of years for the sole purpose of contemplation for viewers.
Those trees were someone's heart and soul.