The trees, estimated to be worth thousands of dollars, were stolen from the secured, public display Sunday morning. (Pacific Bonsai Museum)

The trees, estimated to be worth thousands of dollars, were stolen from the secured, public display Sunday morning. (Pacific Bonsai Museum)

Stolen bonsai trees ‘mysteriously returned’ in Federal Way

One of the trees was grown from seed by a Japanese American while he was interned during World War II.

Two bonsai trees stolen from the Pacific Bonsai Museum in Federal Way last weekend have been “mysteriously returned,” museum directors say.

The trees, estimated to be worth thousands of dollars, were stolen from the secured, public display at the museum on Sunday morning.

Security guards discovered the pair of bonsai sitting on the road leading to the museum around 11 p.m. on Tuesday.

The guards alerted museum staff, who then responded to the scene along with Federal Way police.

After examining the trees, museum curator Aarin Packard declared the bonsai to be “in fairly good shape,” a museum news release stated.

The two stolen bonsai trees included a Silverberry bonsai in training since 1946, which was created by female bonsai artist, Kiyoko Hatanaka, and a Japanese Black Pine grown from seed in a tin can by Japanese American Juzaburo Furuzawa while he was incarcerated during World War II.

“The Silverberry suffered some damage,” Packard shared. “It has some broken branches, probably due to improper transportation and handling, but both bonsai trees and their pots appear to be intact, which means they can return to being on public display.”

According to a museum news release, the Japanese Black Pine will resume its position as the centerpiece of Pacific Bonsai Museum’s upcoming special exhibition, “World War Bonsai: Remembrance & Resilience,” opening May 8.

The bonsai were to be further examined and placed back on public display by noon, Wednesday.

“We are deeply grateful for the tremendous outpouring of support from the community and from the media who raised awareness of the bonsai’s disappearance,” said Pacific Bonsai Museum Executive Director Kathy McCabe.

Earlier this week, McCabe previously promised “no questions asked” if the bonsai were returned.

No details are known about who returned the bonsai or why the thieves took them.

The Pacific Bonsai Museum is located in Woodbridge Corporate Park, formerly the Weyerhaeuser Company Campus, in Federal Way.

Established in 1989 and now a nonprofit organization, the museum is home to one of the top bonsai collections in the world, the museum notes.

This story originally appeared in the Federal Way Mirror, a sibling paper to the Herald.

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