Thieves used machinery to steal flowering cherry blossom branches and tree trunks from a park in Osaka Prefecture.

Late last month, local residents discovered that of the total 25 trees in Kanokita Park in Higashi-Osaka, 18 branches and 3 tree trunks were missing, along with the cherry blossom flowers they carried. At first they assumed that the government agency responsible for the parks in the area had sent workers or outside contractors to remove the trees, possibly to combat rot or disease or some such reason. It turned out though, to be no such thing, but perhaps the most Japanese theft ever (or possibly second to having the dust caps stolen from your mamachari bicycle).

While plenty of people get excited about cherry blossom season in Japan, most people are happy to go to the park and enjoy the ephemeral beauty of the cherry blossoms with a drink and a picnic, where the atmosphere and crowds of people are as much a part of the celebration as the flowers. But one group of thieves/vandals (or one particularly committed one) stole away with a number of trees as they were in full bloom.

Judging by the clean cuts, officials believe thieves may have used electric or industrial cutting equipment, and possibly even machinery, to carry away the bulky trunks and branches. Some of the pieces taken would have been around 3 metres (nearly ten feet) long and pretty heavy.

In an episode of a certain Japanese TV comedy, two comedians dressed as thieves put on overalls to steal a TV, lifting it off the wall even as people were watching it. As they took it outside to their waiting car in the skit, one of the people ran outside to stop them, only to give them the remote control they forgot, showing that people trust other people who look as if they know what they’re doing. Wear a hi-viz jacket and carry a clipboard and people will assume you’re on official business. Presumably that’s how thieves hoped to able to get away with their crime if discovered, although at what time of the day or night the trees were taken remains a mystery.

Since the trees weren’t taken roots and all, the cherry blossoms would only have lasted a few days, with no chance of being transplanted elsewhere. The purpose of the theft has left residents baffled, with some crying pranks or petty vandalism. So, keep an eye out for anyone wearing half a tree in their hair as a fashion accessory, a more extreme version of the trend to snap off cherry blossom branches for photos to post on social media, as we may yet catch the culprit.

Source: Mainichi
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