Vandals destroy 123 bashofu trees in Ogimi
123 Bashofu trees, Japanese fiber banana trees that are the source of raw material for woven local textile called ‘Bashofu’, were found cut and overran in Kijyoka, Ogimi Village on Mar. 3rd. The village is known as the main production area of bashofu textile that is designated as a Nationally Important Tangible Cultural Heritage,
Nago Police is investigating the incident as a case of property destruction. The trees had been growing on a field owned by 67-year-old Mieko Taira, a director of the Kijyoka Bashofu Cooperative Association and daughter-in-law of Toshiko Taira who is the Living National Treasure of Bashofu.
The destruction of the trees was discovered when Taira went to show the staff from the Japanese Agency for Cultural Affairs and the Okinawa Board of Education around the area during a study tour.
According to Taira, 123 trees that had been growing on an area of about 21.6 square meters were cut. She estimated the damage at about ¥180,000.
A 20-cm-long piece of an imitation sword was found on the site. A lighter and toilet paper tube believed to have been used to burning the bashofu leaves were also found.
The cut trees are no more usable raw material for bashofu textile weaving because they would need to be more than one-meter-long to yield fiber for weaving. The 123 trees would be enough to make one bashofu kimono, two obis and 15 smaller accessories, like a centerpiece of a table.