This 392-Year-Old Bonsai Tree Survived the Hiroshima Atomic Blast & Still Flourishes Today: The Power of Resilience

Image by Sage Ross, via Wiki­me­dia Com­mons

The beau­ti­ful bon­sai tree pic­tured above–let’s call it the Yama­ki Pine Bonsai–began its jour­ney through the world back in 1625. That’s when the Yama­ki fam­i­ly first began to train the tree, work­ing patient­ly, gen­er­a­tion after gen­er­a­tion, to prune the tree into the majes­tic thing it is today.

No doubt, over the cen­turies, the ancient bon­sai wit­nessed many good and bad days in Japan–some highs and some lows. But noth­ing as low as what hap­pened on August 6, 1945, when the Unit­ed States dropped an atom­ic bomb on Hiroshi­ma, dev­as­tat­ing the city and leav­ing 140,000 civil­ians dead. The bomb explod­ed less than two miles from the Yamak­i’s home. But defy­ing the odds, the Yama­ki Pine sur­vived the blast. (It was pro­tect­ed by a wall sur­round­ing the Yamak­i’s bon­sai nurs­ery.) The fam­i­ly sur­vived the blast too, suf­fer­ing only minor cuts from fly­ing glass.

Three decades lat­er, in a rather remark­able act of for­give­ness, the Yama­ki fam­i­ly gift­ed the pine (along with 52 oth­er cher­ished trees) to the Unit­ed States, dur­ing the bicen­ten­ni­al cel­e­bra­tion of 1976. Nev­er did they say any­thing, how­ev­er, about the trau­mas the tree sur­vived. Only in 2001, when a younger gen­er­a­tion of Yamakis vis­it­ed Wash­ing­ton, did the care­tak­ers at the Unit­ed States Nation­al Arbore­tum learn the full sto­ry about the tree’s resilience. The tree sur­vived the worst mankind could throw at it. And kept its beau­ty intact. Sure­ly you can do the same when life sends less­er chal­lenges your way.

You can get a clos­er look at the Yama­ki pine in the video below.

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Relat­ed Con­tent:

The “Shad­ow” of a Hiroshi­ma Vic­tim, Etched into Stone, Is All That Remains After 1945 Atom­ic Blast

Watch Chill­ing Footage of the Hiroshi­ma & Nagasa­ki Bomb­ings in Restored Col­or

The Art of Cre­at­ing a Bon­sai: One Year Con­densed Con­densed Into 22 Mes­mer­iz­ing Min­utes

The Art & Phi­los­o­phy of Bon­sai



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