Yuki Onishi Missing – Yuki Onishi is a five-year-old Japanese girl who went missing in a forest on April 29, 2005. Over 3,000 people tried looking for her, but not a single trace of her was found.
Strangely, when police dogs tried following her scent, they all stopped in the middle of the forest. Yuki disappeared at a gardening event and has never been found since then. Yuki went out with her mother and sister, to a local community gardening event. In one moment, they were digging up bamboo roots and enjoying the wonderful nature of Japan, and the next Yuki was gone.
There were no traces of her and no one had seen if she had gone out alone or someone took her. Searches and patrols were sent but she was never found.
Description of Yuki Onishi When she was last seen:
There was a video footage of Yuki at the event and with her mother’s help, the police have a very good description of Yuki and what she was wearing when she was last seen.
Name – Yuki Onishi
Age – 5 years old
Sex – Female
Height – 3’ 5”
Weight – 33 pounds
Hair – Black hair in a bob hairstyle
Last Seen Clothing – Long-sleeved shirt (red and orange stripes),Navy blue pants with three orange lines, Pink hat with a flower pattern on the left side, Pink shoes with rabbit design, White gardening gloves for kids
About Yuki’s Disappearance:
The Japanese holiday was moved to May 4th in 2007. But in 2005, Greenery Day was celebrated across Japan to bring people and nature together and appreciate the environment. Many people go hiking, camping, mountain climbing, or take part in other eco-friendly events.
In Yuki’s town, there was a small festival held at the back of the Visitor Center of her town. There were about 60 people gathered including Yuki, her mother, and sister. In the morning the participants walked around the gardens at the back of the center and took in views of the beautiful flowers in the mountains.
Then around 1 pm, the event had a bamboo shoot digging event where locals could dig for their own bamboo shoots which are used for cooking in Japanese dishes. A video captured by one of the participants shows Yuki at the flower viewing. And her mother also reported that Yuki was helping her and her sister dig bamboo shots until around 1:30 pm. The digging wrapped up around 2 pm and the kids were supposed to meet their mother at that time in the bamboo grove area. But Yuki never returned.
At around 2 p.m. Her mother could not find her and she started looking around for her. She also asked the people around her and many people started searching for the lost girl. But after an hour, no one had seen or heard from Yuki so the Visitor center called Sakaide Police Station and reported her missing.
The Search for Yuki Onishi:
The police arrived on the scene just before 4 pm. A total of 100 people including, visitors, community staff, police, volunteers, and police dogs searched the grounds until 9 pm but no one could pinpoint the whereabouts of Yuki.
Throughout the next few days, hundreds of police staff and volunteers searched not only the visitor center but the bamboo forest in the north of the Center, the Tambe Pond which was next to the bamboo grove, and surrounding areas.
Police dogs were able to pick up the scent of Yuki using her water bottle and leading from where she was digging for bamboo shoots until a certain area of the bamboo grove but then the scent disappeared. Several police dogs were used and all followed the scent to that same spot but the trail went cold and no one could figure out where Yuki went from there.
After leaving her mother, police were able to locate and confirm two witnesses who came in contact with Yuki after she left her mother at 1:30 pm. NTV in December 2008 reported that two participants at the event came into contact with Yuki after 1:30. The first was a junior high school girl who said she greeted and briefly spoke with Yuki. The next was a man who was walking toward the meeting spot where people including Yuki’s mother were waiting. He saw her walking around 1:40 but did not speak to her.
Police interviewed many event-goers but none of them recalled seeing a 5-year-old girl walking alone towards the parking area, campsite, or away from the Visitor Center.
Later in the summer, police drained the Tambe Pond in the event that Yuki might have slipped and fallen into the pond and drowned. But Yuki’s body, nor any of her clothes were found. 3000 people were involved in the search for Yuki but neither Yuki nor any of her belongings were found anywhere around the Visitor Center and surrounding pond and forests.
Police investigated a variety of possibilities and theories but even after 16 years, there have been no significant clues or information to locate Yuki. But KSB News reported that Riki Shimazu, Chief of Life Safety Division continues to search for Yuki, “ with the feeling that she is absolutely alive,” and asks anyone with any information on the case contact the Sakaide Police.
Theories of Yuki Onishi Disappearance:
- Some say she might have been taken by an animal, like an eagle, monkey, bear, or other wildlife grabbed Yuki and escaped with her body. Ground animals seem unlikely as experts said if Yuki had been taken by a ground animal, other witnesses would have seen or heard the animal or Yuki as she was being taken. Also, there would have been tracks on the ground and possible blood or clothing from Yuki. However, police found no evidence of any kind of struggle or attack.
- Others said Yuki might have drowned in a Pond, One of the major theories was Yuki was out searching for bamboo shoots and got too close to the pond and fell in. For this reason, the police decided to drain the pond and thoroughly search for any remains or possessions of Yuki. However, the search found no such objects.
The pond is also not very deep or steep so it wouldn’t be hard for Yuki to get out of the pond even if she fell. There were also no signs of footprints or slippage that might occur if Yuki had fallen into the pond.
- Lost in the Forest, There were some theories that suggested that Yuki went deep into the forest to find bamboo shoots where other people not might have dug. And while in the forest she got lost. This may be a possibility depending on how far she might have gone but police and searchers searched the forest and found no traces of Yuki.
Also, had she gotten lost, she most likely would have started crying and avoided going further into the forest. She might have also lost her hat or shoes or ripped her clothing in the brush but nothing was ever found.
- Taken by A Sexual Predator, This seems to be the most likely scenario for a variety of reasons. As Greenery Day was the beginning of the Golden Week holiday, many families were out celebrating. Along with the event, the area had many campers, hikers, and bird watchers so there would be many chances to blend in with all the tourists and not stick out.
Since the police dogs lost the trail of Yuki all at the same general location, many people thought a person who saw Yuki alone, approached her, picked her up, and took her away. However, there were no witnesses who saw any such person carrying a girl.
According to report, there were witnesses who saw a man with a large backpack walking around the event. Police looked into the possibility that this man might have picked up Yuki, placed her in his backpack, and left the site. However, unless the man used something to subdue Yuki, it would be hard to put a 5-year-old girl in a backpack without her screaming, making noise, or moving around.
Also, with many hikers and campers around, having a large backpack would not be strange or unique so possibly many people carrying big backpacks were at the event or the surrounding area. But if this man with a backpack theory is correct, it would also mean that this was not a crime of opportunity but a planned crime. The person would have to have prepared an empty backpack that could fit a child and some sort of way to keep the child from moving or making noise. They would have had to plan a spot where they could find a child alone and kidnap them without being seen by the many people out and about.
It has been 16 years so if Yuki Onishi is alive she would be 21 years old. Kagawa police released a sketch of what she might look like now if she is alive. Police continue to search for Yuki and ask the public if anyone has any old footage from the event whether it be videos or photos, to contact the police in Sakaide City.
Without having recovered anything Yuki was wearing or her remains, there is no way to find any closure or move on. Police, family, the community and those who were aware of the case have waited years to find any clues to Yuki’s whereabouts. And until Yuki or her remains are found, the people who knew her and her story will continue to hope that one day answers can be found.
Photos of Yuki from age 5 to the current sketch are posted at the train stations in her city and pamphlets were handed out with her information. Despite not having any major leads, police do not give up hope. If you have any information, please contact the Sakaide Police Station (0877–46–0110).