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Seeds from Hiroshima ‘survivor tree’ growing in Scotland as part of peace project

Seeds from a tree that survived the atomic bomb in Hiroshima are being grown in Glasgow.

The precious ginkgo seeds – harvested from the “survivor tree” – were gifted to the city council as part of an international peace initiative.

Hiro Shimai, a curator from Japan, is among staff at the council’s Botanic Gardens who are nurturing them.

Mr Shimai’s mother, who is now in her 90s, witnessed the radioactive mushroom cloud created by the deadly atomic bomb in August 1945 and recalls giving food to injured people who fled the nuclear fallout.


The area where she lived escaped the worst of the atrocity due to Hiroshima being surrounded by mountains.

Mr Shimai grew up around 18 miles from Hiroshima and moved to Glasgow in January this year to take up the post of curator at the much-loved gardens.

After relocating nearly 6,000 miles, Mr Shimai is delighted to be working on a project of such significance to his homeland.

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The tiny saplings are growing in Glasgow and will be planted out once bigger and stronger. Pic: Glasgow City Council

Mr Shimai, who received the seeds in the mail and carefully planted them with help from a colleague, said: “I am very happy to be part of this project.

“Ginkgo trees are very common in Japan. They are very hardy trees, but we weren’t sure if the seeds would germinate when we planted them.

“I was very relieved when the seedlings appeared.”

The “survivor tree” miraculously survived the Second World War bombing and continues to grow in the famous Shukkeien Garden.

The international Mayors for Peace project distributes seeds from the tree to cities around the world, to be grown on and planted out as lasting symbols of peace.

Hopes they will be ‘tall and strong’

The tiny saplings currently stand between 15-20cm tall, and when bigger and sturdy enough, they will be planted out in Glasgow parks.

Mr Shimai added: “Hopefully they will grow to be tall and strong enough to be planted out in Kelvingrove Park where the trees could live for at least 100 years and remind everyone of the importance of peace.

“I hope no one ever forgets what happened at Hiroshima.”

Read more:
How Oppenheimer’s legacy still impacts us today
‘The danger never goes away’
What is the Doomsday Clock and how does it work?

On 6 and 9 August 1945, the United States detonated two atomic bombs over the Japanese cities of Hiroshima and Nagasaki. The bombings killed between 129,000 and 226,000 people, most of whom were civilians.

The attacks remain the only use of nuclear weapons in an armed conflict. Recently the bomb was covered by Hollywood blockbuster Oppenheimer about the physicist who played a big role in developing the weapon.

Councillor Jacqueline McLaren, Glasgow’s lord provost, said: “Glasgow is proud to be a member of Mayors for Peace and we’re honoured to receive seeds from the survivor tree.

“It is an extraordinary coincidence that Hiro works in Glasgow and is one of the staff taking care of the saplings. The trees, and everything they represent, are hugely significant and it must be especially important for Hiro.

“I hope the saplings grow tall and strong and can’t wait to see them planted out in a prominent place in the city where they will stand as living memorials to all those killed and injured by the bomb and also serve as a reminder about the futility of war.”


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