Name: Giant Zelkova of Sakuyama (佐久山のケヤキ)
Type: Japanese Zelkova (Zelkowa Serrata)
Trunk Circumference: 7.1m
Age: 800 years
Location: 栃木県大田原市佐久山 (36° 48′ 30″N 140° 00′ 36″E)
Date of Visit: 2011-5-21
On the right bank of the Houki River lies the community of Sakuyama.
There, centrally located, off the prefectural road and slightly to the north and tucked behind some houses, there stands a lone, old zelkova tree. In front of it is Dainichi Temple, a small local temple dedicated to the supreme Buddha. Of course, due to its proximity, this tree is often called the Zelkova of Dainichi Temple.
The trunk used to stretch to the sky, branches spreading in every direction to create the appearance of a lush hemispherical canopy.
But now, the shape is as you see it. In the early part of this century, the tree was rather sickly, and, so help preserve it for the future, a series of treatments were administered to help it recover. Though recovery was slow (just three years ago, it still looked rather sad and sick), now it seems to be full of life once again.
In the past, local belief held that the richness of the canopy was a predictor of the harvest: poor and sickly, a poor harvest; full and rich, a good harvest. Though this may be little more than folklore, I hope the local community has a prosperous farming year.
I try to show you my Japan. Won’t you show us your Japan?