The Giant Trees of Tochigi: #72 The Giant Zelkova of Mibu Atago Shrine

#72 The Giant Zelkova of Mibu Atago Shrine
This zelkova stands at the edge of the shrine precinct and adjacent to a road.

Number: 72
Name: Giant Zelkova of Mibu Shrine (壬生愛宕神社のケヤキ)
Type: Japanese Zelkova (Zelkowa serrata)
Height: 30m
Trunk Circumference: 5.4m
Age: Unknown
Location: 栃木県下都賀郡壬生町壬生甲字車塚(三好町) (36° 25′ 55.6644″N 139° 48′ 37.0614″E)
Date of Visit: 2011-7-18

In the northeast part of central Mibu Town, constructed some 1400 years ago, there is Atago Ancient Tomb Mound. It’s a historical landmark of national importance. It’s a 65m long keyhole-shaped tomb mound.

#72 The Giant Zelkova of Mibu Atago Shrine
The lone zelkova at the road stands in contrast to the grove of cryptomeria.

In Genroku 7 (元禄7年, 1694 CE), the lord of Mibu Castle, Matsudaira Terusada (松平輝定) had Atago Shrine built on top of the burial mound. This lies to the northeast of the castle, the demon gate (鬼門), the place misfortune and evil are thought to come from. It is conceivable that this shrine was built to ward off the evil influence of the northeast.

#72 The Giant Zelkova of Mibu Atago Shrine
It deserves a nicer rope...

At the entrance off the road onto the shrine’s path, there stands lone zelkova. Though it is not a registered natural monument, the area around it has been kept clean. The rope, though, sports not white paper, but weathered plastic bags.

Inside the shrine grounds, immediately in front of the shrine, there is the remnant of what was once a great cryptomeria, with a trunk circumference of around 4m.

#72 The Giant Zelkova of Mibu Atago Shrine
Around this time, a man in a Nissan Cube and a man in a white van showed up. The man from the Cube got into the white van. Soon the van started rocking, and it was ever so uncomfortable, so I moved on.