Name: Grand Ginkgo of Asahimachi (旭町の大いちょう)
Trunk Circumference: 6.2m
Age: 300+ years
Location: 栃木県宇都宮市中央１丁目 (36° 33′ 27″N 139° 52′ 57″E)
Date of Visit: 2010-1-31
In Utsunomiya, at the intersection of the north-south road connecting City Hall with the Prefectural Government building and Ichou-dori, on the northwest corner stands this Ginkgo tree. The elevated location where it stands is the remnant of an earthen wall that formed a boundary at Utsunomiya Castle, but as it is now quite close to the downtown core, it was mostly lost. The Ginkgo was a symbol of Utsunomiya Castle, and later, an important symbol to the people of Utsunomiya City.
On July 12, 1945, from midnight until dawn, Utsunomiya suffered an American air raid. There were many victims, and approximately half the city center was lost. In the conflagration, this Ginkgo tree, too, was a victim, burned until it was completely pitch black. Yet, in the spring after the end of the war, green buds were to be seen sprouting from the tree that was thought to be dead. This gallantly strong life force lit the fire of courage in the hearts of the people of Utsunomiya.
Since then, this Ginkgo has become a symbol of the post-war revival. In 1986, on the 90th anniversary of the incorporation of Utsunomiya City, the citizens chose the Ginkgo as the city’s official tree. Surely, they were thinking of the Grand Ginkgo of Asahimachi when they made their choice.