Name: Sacred Zelkova of Shirahige Shrine (白鬚神社の神木けやき)
Type: Japanese Zelkova (Zelkowa Serrata)
Trunk Circumference: 5.5m
Age: >300 years
Location: 栃木県塩谷郡高根沢町宝積寺 (36° 36′ 56″N 139° 58′ 29″E)
Date of Visit: 2011-5-21
Shirahige Shrine is located immediately west of National Route 4, a short distance north of its crossing over the Kinu River at Hoshakuji. It is easily visible from the road, and impossible to overlook. However, as traffic on Route 4 is heavy, and the parking area practically nonexistant, do be careful if you choose to visit this tree.
Inside the shrine grounds, beside the massive zelkova, there is a signboard which states that it has been added to the Tochigi’s curated list of trees of historical importance (名木). Another stone pillar proclaiming the tree to be a natural monument in Takanezawa is also there. The pillar calls the tree 「神木欅」Sacred Zelkova.
I think the shrine’s ground level used to be lower. Perhaps the ground was raised during the building and upgrading of Route 4 after the war. At any rate, a stone retaining wall has been built around the zelkova to protect it.
If one looks closely, one can see new sprouts popping out of roots and here and there. Maybe, in a few decades, we will be able to call this The Parent and Child Zelkovas of Shirahige Shrine.
I try to show you my Japan. Won’t you show us your Japan?