Name: Giant Zelkova of Muryouju Temple (無量寿寺のけやき)
Type: Japanese Zelkova (Zelkowa serrata)
Trunk Circumference: 5.3m
Location: 栃木県真岡市下籠谷 (36° 29′ 14.7222″N 139° 58′ 49.0794″E)
Date of Visit: 2011-7-18
According to temple lore, in Eiwa 1 (永和元年, 1375 CE), a pupil, Sadayuki (定祐), of Head Priest Joue (定恵) of Senju Temple, started to build a small thatched hut in Komoriya Village (籠谷村). It is thought that, at first, it was used as a place to spread the teachings of Shinran.
Later, at the end of the Tenshou Era (天正, 1573-92 CE), Komoriya Isenokami Masataka (籠谷伊勢守政高) became the patron of the temple and had it erected at its current location. Though the temple complex was only endowed with 30 koku of land, it is a splendid temple.
This natural monument zelkova stands out back, next to the temple kitchen, on the edge of a 10m ledge. From this location, the zelkova can look down on both the priest’s quarters and the nearby road. In springtime, in a small garden below the tree many azaleas bloom. Of course, the roots on the cliff-side side are large and strong to keep the tree from tumbling down the side.