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

If four years seems like a long time, let me help put things in per­spec­tive.

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 lit­tle 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 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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via My Mod­ern Met

Relat­ed Con­tent:

Build­ing Your Resilience: Find­ing Mean­ing in Adversity–Take a Free & Time­ly Course Online

Hiroshi­ma After the Atom­ic Bomb in 360 Degrees

Haunt­ing Unedit­ed Footage of the Bomb­ing of Nagasa­ki (1945)

Hōshi: A Short Film on the 1300-Year-Old Hotel Run by the Same Fam­i­ly for 46 Gen­er­a­tions

Watch Japan­ese Wood­work­ing Mas­ters Cre­ate Ele­gant & Elab­o­rate Geo­met­ric Pat­terns with Wood


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Comments (5)
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  • Cristina says:

    What an amaz­ing sto­ry. Beau­ti­ful. Like the tree.

  • Norman says:

    No, it is not like it, moron, it IS the tree !

  • C NOLEN HUDSON says:

    Mag­nif­i­cent!!!! A joy to expe­ri­ence!

  • Michael says:

    I like the tree, I like your sto­ry except, any time you tell only part of a com­plete sto­ry, you cre­ate dis­re­spect for all involved. Many peo­ple did and did not sur­vive the bomb dropped near the tree and its care­tak­er’s res­i­dence. War is nev­er won­der­ful. Your sto­ry is neg­a­tive­ly slant­ed toward dis­dain for those who dropped the bomb. Where your sto­ry fails is its omis­sion of how many more mil­lions were saved by using the atom­ic bomb rather than bomb­ing all of Japan. In fact, mil­lions of lives were spared by this one act. You con­ve­nient­ly for­got Japan’s bomb­ing of Pearl Har­bor and those Amer­i­cans who lost their lives at sea dur­ing WWII. This sto­ry of yours in it’s cumu­la­tive form is poor writ­ing and worse read­ing. You have used the longevi­ty of this tree to pro­mote your own ide­al­ism and have for­got­ten kind­ness and respect for all those involved.

  • Mike says:

    Agree with your com­ment. I have seen more than one arti­cle, often writ­ten by some­one from the US, who slants the sto­ry at how hor­ri­ble the two bombs were.
    Most do not real­ize the hell the fire bomb­ing of Tokyo was. This would have con­tin­ued city by city with many more deaths at the end of the day. If we did an inva­sion, a lot on both sides would suf­fer.
    The Japan­ese mil­i­tary did not have sur­ren­der as a option.

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