Name: Giant Zelkova of Imamiya Shrine (今宮神社のケヤキ)
Type: Japanese Zelkova (Zelkowa serrata)
Trunk Circumference: 5.5m
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
Imamiya Shrine is directly east of Kanuma City Hall. It’s a shrine smack-dab in the middle of the city.
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.
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.
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.
I try to show you my Japan. Won’t you show us your Japan?