The Giant Trees of Tochigi: #24 The Giant Zelkova of Imamiya Shrine

#24 The Giant Zelkova of Imamiya Shrine
In the northeast corner of the Imamiya Shrine complex, protecting it from the evils that flow from that direction, is this giant zelkova.

Number: 24
Name: Giant Zelkova of Imamiya Shrine (今宮神社のケヤキ)
Type: Japanese Zelkova (Zelkowa serrata)
Height: 20m
Trunk Circumference: 5.5m
Age: Unknown
Location: 栃木県鹿沼市今宮町 (36° 34′ 1.7544″N 139° 44′ 46.9428″E)
Date of Visit: 2011-7-18

#24 The Giant Zelkova of Imamiya Shrine
The entrance to the inner sanctums.

Imamiya Shrine is directly east of Kanuma City Hall. It’s a shrine smack-dab in the middle of the city.

The enshrined deities are Oonamuchi-no-mikoto (大己貴命) also known as Ookuninushi (大国主) (who was also enshrined at Chikatsu Shrine), Tagorihime-no-Mikoto (田心姫命) and one other.

According to an information board at the shrine, in Tenbun 3 (天文3年, 1534 CE), Mibu Tsunafusa (壬生綱房) was renovating the castle in Kanuma (after being appointed lord of the castle there by the Utsunomiya clan after they defeated Kanuma Tsunakatsu (鹿沼綱勝) two years earlier). For the blessings commensurate with being close to such a shrine, he had Imamiya Daigongen (今宮大権現) moved to be close to the castle. (Further reading about Kanuma, the history of Imamiya Shrine, and festivals held there can be found here.) The shrine itself is a splendid building, and is listed among Tochigi’s Cultural Assets.

#24 The Giant Zelkova of Imamiya Shrine
It has completely encased this stone retaining wall.

On the grounds, there are many large zelkovas, tall, old, and in good condition. They’re impossible to miss. The fattest of them all, though, is in the northeast corner of the compound, slightly removed from the shrine itself, and beside a monthly-rate parking lot run by the shrine. The roots have completely consumed a stone wall at its base, and the tree is sitting higher than the surrounding ground level. One wonders if the ground level used to be this high for the entire area.

#24 The Giant Zelkova of Imamiya Shrine
I've heard that, 5 years ago, one could see an information stake poking out from among the roots, but since then it seems the tree has dealt with it utterly.
#24 The Giant Zelkova of Imamiya Shrine

It seems that in the past, the trunk was fuller at the top than it is now, but that a main part of it has been lost. At this time, the wound opened up the tree to the elements, and the inside is now rather hollow. In recent years though, it has pushed out new young branches, so it still seems to be vigorous.

#24 The Giant Zelkova of Imamiya Shrine
#24 The Giant Zelkova of Imamiya Shrine
The day was hot, even though it was only just 10am when I was here. The shade of the old zelkova was soothingly cool, but more trees awaited.

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

One thought on “The Giant Trees of Tochigi: #24 The Giant Zelkova of Imamiya Shrine”

Comments are closed.