The Story of the 392-Year-Old Bonsai Tree That Survived Hiroshima


At the National Bonsai & Penjing Museum in Washington, D.C., is a piece of Japan’s history that dates back to the 17th century.

It’s a bonsai tree, gifted by master Masaru Yamaki to America on its bicentennial. The 392-year-old white pine is the oldest tree in the collection – it was planted in 1625, cultivated and personally cared for over the years by one master or another, and was living only 2 miles from where the U.S. dropped the atomic bomb on Hiroshima.

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i met a 400 year old tree today

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The Yamaki family – Masaru’s son and grandson – revealed that the tree was sitting on a garden bench at their home when the bomb went off. It survived (and so did all of the other trees in their garden, along with their family).

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В национальном дендрарии США опекают самый старый бонсай в мире – в этом году ему исполнится 392 года. #lofficielvoyagerussia #lofficielvoyagerus #magazine #editorial #bonsai #bonsaitree #tree #oldestbonsai #oldestbonsaitree #arboretum #nationalarboretum #бонсай #деревобонсай #дендрарий #сша #вашингтон #америка #washington #usa #unitedstatesofamerica🇺🇸 #соединённыештатыамерики🇺🇸

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Though the tree’s history is amazing (it’s a rare specimen that hails from the island of Miyajima), it’s not the oldest bonsai in the world – that title belongs to a 550-year-old tree at Tokyo’s Imperial Palace.

They have one that’s 450 years old, too, though no word on how close either of those were to a bomb that stunned the world with its destructive power.

The gift of the tree was a nice gesture, but you have to wonder how it feels about residing in the country who dropped an atomic bomb so close to its home – and if plants had memories, whether it would ever be able to forget the devastation it must have witnessed that day, and in the years that followed.