Seeds from a tree which survived the atomic bomb in Hiroshima are being grown in Glasgow.
The precious Ginkgo Tree seeds were gifted to Glasgow City Council as part of an international peace initiative and, poignantly, Hiro Shimai from Japan is among staff at the council's Botanic Gardens who is nurturing them.
Hiro grew up around 30kms from Hiroshima and moved to Glasgow in January this year to take up a job as curator at the world renowned Botanic Gardens. After relocating almost 6000 miles, Hiro is delighted to be working on a project of such significance to his homeland.
His mum, now in her 90s, witnessed the radioactive mushroom cloud created by the horrific 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 because Hiroshima is surrounded by mountains.
The seeds being grown in Glasgow were harvested from a Ginkgo tree in Hiroshima which miraculously survived the bombing.
Known as the survivor tree, it still grows in Hiroshima's 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.
Hiro was thrilled to receive them in the mail on behalf of Glasgow and a colleague carefully planted them - but staff couldn't be certain they would grow.
He 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 tiny saplings currently stand between 15 and 20 centimetres tall, and when bigger and sturdy enough, they will be planted out in Glasgow parks.
Hiro continued: "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."
Glasgow's Lord Provost, Councillor Jacqueline McLaren, 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 him.
"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."