The Giant Trees of Tochigi: #7 The Forked Nutmeg-yew of Sagehashi

#7 The Forked Nutmeg-yew of Sagehashi
Every great location is enhanced by a great gate.

Number: 7
Name: Forked Nutmeg-yew of Sagehashi (下ヶ橋の三ツ股カヤ)
Type: Nutmeg-yew (Torreya nucifera)
Height: 19m
Trunk Circumference: 5.2m
Age: >500 years
Location: 栃木県宇都宮市下ヶ橋町(東下ヶ橋) (36° 38′ 56″N 139° 56′ 37″E)
Date of Visit: 2011-7-18

This tree is actually in someone’s back yard. They were around, but I couldn’t attract their attention, and so I entered through the gate.

#7 The Forked Nutmeg-yew of Sagehashi
Not only the default wooden plaque, but also a stone pillar denote this as an important natural monument of Tochigi.

I thought what a strange juxtaposition it was. Here I was presented with a nearly-home, and within spitting distance of the back door is a natural monument, an old nutmeg-yew. Even situations such as these exist, I guess. A brief look around showed what looked like an old well, and old irrigation marks. I guess there has always been a house here. As I approached the tree, I noticed that a colony of bees had set up shop in the southwest crotch, so I did not get too close.

#7 The Forked Nutmeg-yew of Sagehashi
You can't really see because I'm so far away, but that deep fold is actually the entrance to a bee hive.

It is said that on August 10th in 享保8年 (that’s 1723 CE), in the middle period of the Time of the Monkey (申中刻, which would be around 5pm, according to our modern reckoning), old Lake Ikari (五十里湖) broke its banks. Heavy flooding was visited on the entire region. To save the elderly and the woman and children, the men stayed behind until the very end, ensuring the safety of the community. At the last minute, urged on by someone’s call, the men climbed this nutmeg-yew and, fortunately, narrowly escaped a terrible death. That’s what’s said.

#7 The Forked Nutmeg-yew of Sagehashi
What an amazing thing to have in your back yard.
#7 The Forked Nutmeg-yew of Sagehashi
It's so warm and inviting in the summer sunshine.

Now, looking at the peaceful visage of this great old tree, it’s impossible to imagine that this is a grand old nutmeg-yew that has gone through such a trial as what happened in the eighth year of Kyouhou.

#7 The Forked Nutmeg-yew of Sagehashi
Though my visit was brief, I'm glad I met this tree, and glad I learned its amazing story. I wonder what I'll find next.

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