Giant Trees of Tochigi: #4 The Giant Ginkgo of Jougan Temple

#4 The Giant Ginkgo of Jougan Temple (by Mullenkedheim)

Number: 4
Name: The Giant Ginkgo of Jougan Temple (成願寺のイチョウ)
Type: Ginkgo
Height: 30m
Trunk Circumference: 5.9m
Age: 500 years
Location: 栃木県宇都宮市西刑部町(成願寺) (36° 29′ 56″N 139° 55′ 53″E)
Date of Visit: 2010-1-31

If you head eastward out of Utsunomiya on the new-ish National Route 121, just past the Industrial Park at Shimokuwajima-machi, on the right (south) side of the road, you will see a large Ginkgo.

Much like the Gingko, Jougan Temple is a splendid temple. These days, the temple and the grounds are undergoing improvements and work. Thought I tried to avoid it, the pylons of this work could not but find their way into some of the images.

The temple was founded in Tempyou-jingo 1 (765 CE) by Shoudou, who also founded temples in Nikko. The road the passes the gate, Municipal Road 406, has been called Jougan Temple Highway since time immemorial. This Ginkgo was surely a landmark for people walking the road.

#4 The Giant Ginkgo of Jougan Temple (by Mullenkedheim)

#4 The Giant Ginkgo of Jougan Temple (by Mullenkedheim)

#4 The Giant Ginkgo of Jougan Temple (by Mullenkedheim)

#4 The Giant Ginkgo of Jougan Temple (by Mullenkedheim)

#4 The Giant Ginkgo of Jougan Temple (by Mullenkedheim)

#4 The Giant Ginkgo of Jougan Temple (by Mullenkedheim)

#4 The Giant Ginkgo of Jougan Temple (by Mullenkedheim)

#4 The Giant Ginkgo of Jougan Temple (by Mullenkedheim)

Giant Trees of Tochigi: #2 The Grand Ginkgo of Asahimachi

#2 Grand Ginkgo of Asahimachi (by Mullenkedheim)

Number: 2
Name: Grand Ginkgo of Asahimachi (旭町の大いちょう)
Type: Gingko
Height: 32m
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.

#2 Grand Ginkgo of Asahimachi (by Mullenkedheim)

#2 Grand Ginkgo of Asahimachi (by Mullenkedheim)

#2 Grand Ginkgo of Asahimachi (by Mullenkedheim)

#2 Grand Ginkgo of Asahimachi (by Mullenkedheim)

#2 Grand Ginkgo of Asahimachi (by Mullenkedheim)

Giant Trees of Tochigi: #1 The Giant Zelkova of Shinmachi

#1 Giant Zelkova of Shinmachi (by Mullenkedheim)

Number: 1
Name: Giant Zelkova of Shinmachi (新町のケヤキ)
Type: Japanese Zelkova (Zelkowa Serrata)
Height: 38m
Trunk Circumference: 7.4m
Age: 800 years
Location: 栃木県宇都宮市新町2丁目 (36° 32′ 53″N 139° 52′ 31″E)
Date of Visit: 2010-1-31

Just 800m southwest of Utsunomiya City Hall, turn a corner and find yourself in a quiet residential area. Here is the Giant Zelkova of Shinmachi. Despite the homes and shops that have grown up in the area, the tree is so tall it can be seen nearly two kilometers away in Fudoumae.

According to the information board, in the Edo period, the tree stood near the entrance to the grounds of Utsunomiya Castle, and as such served as a landmark for travellers.

The roots seem to have grown under the street and other pavements. Though the environment has become difficult for this Zelkova, it still stands proud and lives vigorously. Some of the branches completely overhang the road. For this to have been preserved in a city area is precious, indeed.

In the pre-war days, there were three Zelkova like this, but now, only the largest tree remains, its companions having been felled long ago. That a single tree survives, though, is a happy thing. Surely, the people who worked to preserve this tree, and still work to preserve it, deserve our gratitude.

#1 Giant Zelkova of Shinmachi (by Mullenkedheim)

#1 Giant Zelkova of Shinmachi (by Mullenkedheim)

#1 Giant Zelkova of Shinmachi (by Mullenkedheim)

#1 Giant Zelkova of Shinmachi (by Mullenkedheim)

#1 Giant Zelkova of Shinmachi (by Mullenkedheim)

#1 Giant Zelkova of Shinmachi (by Mullenkedheim)