The Giant Trees of Tochigi: #53 The Giant Zelkova of Sakuyama

#53 Giant Zelkova of Sakuyama
In a quiet village, off the main road, down someone's driveway, and nestled between a workshop and the river lies the Giant Zelkova of Sakuyama.

Number: 53
Name: Giant Zelkova of Sakuyama (佐久山のケヤキ)
Type: Japanese Zelkova (Zelkowa Serrata)
Height: 22m
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.

#53 Giant Zelkova of Sakuyama
The Giant Zelkova of Sakuyama is a recognized Natural Monument.
#53 Giant Zelkova of Sakuyama
An information board is near the base of the tree.


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.

#53 Giant Zelkova of Sakuyama
Though it looks as though it has had a rough life, the tree seems healthy.

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.

#53 Giant Zelkova of Sakuyama
The base is broad and beautifully rooty.

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.

#53 Giant Zelkova of Sakuyama
You can see how trunk looks quite sickly, bark flaking off. You can see where bits have been cut or have fallen off. Yet, now, it seems to be as healthy as ever.

#53 Giant Zelkova of Sakuyama

#53 Giant Zelkova of Sakuyama
With a final glance at the carvings of Dainichi Temple, I'm off to my next destination. What I'll find will surprise and disappoint me.

I try to show you my Japan. Won’t you show us your Japan?

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