The Giant Trees of Tochigi: #78 The Giant Ginkgo of Kaminomiya

The Giant Trees of Tochigi: #78 The Giant Ginkgo of Kaminomiya
From the mouth of the path. Directly ahead is the wee grove with the Wandering Willow. The Ginkgo lies further back.

Number: 78
Name: Giant Ginkgo of Kaminomiya (上の宮のイチョウ)
Type: Ginkgo (Ginkgo Biloba)
Height: 35m
Trunk Circumference: 6.0m
Age: >300 years
Location: 栃木県那須郡那須町芦野 (36° 59′ 44″N 140° 09′ 54″E)
Date of Visit: 2011-8-13

In the Ashino District, Yuzen Shrine has two bases: the one at Takebu-san (健武山) which is home to the Giant Cryptomeria of Yuzen Shrine; and this one, near Saigyo’s Wandering Willow. Because this one is located further upstream than the Takebu-san shrine, this shrine is known as Kami-no-miya (上の宮), the upper shrine.

The Giant Trees of Tochigi: #78 The Giant Ginkgo of Kaminomiya
The stone torii. Ahead, the shrine, and the ginkgo. To the left, the Willow, and to the right, a willow.

On the path approaching the shrine, near the stone torii gate, one can find Saigyo’s Wandering Willow. If one continues along the path, it becomes clear that the shrine is literally at the foot of the cliff.

The Giant Trees of Tochigi: #78 The Giant Ginkgo of Kaminomiya
I got kind of distracted by how awesome the rocks were ._.

Apparently this tree is not nearly as well known as the Wandering Willow. I must admit a degree of embarrassment, because even when I was there that day, I thought, “Oh, this is just some other tree, I’ll take pics and research it later — it mustn’t be too important,” but in fact the Wandering Willow is much more well known than this tree. As such, my post on the Wandering Willow will be… lacking, perhaps, due to my focus on this tree.

Though not as well known as the Willow, this tree does have a remarkable life force.

The Giant Trees of Tochigi: #78 The Giant Ginkgo of Kaminomiya
The base. The sidegrowth has really given this tree an interesting shape at this level.
The Giant Trees of Tochigi: #78 The Giant Ginkgo of Kaminomiya
A shot up the canopy. Absolutely lovely, no?
The Giant Trees of Tochigi: #78 The Giant Ginkgo of Kaminomiya
Ginkgo trees have this odd growth behaviour sometimes. They're like, aerial roots/secondary trunks that will grow down to the ground, I think.

Basho visited here in Genroku 2 (元禄2年, 1689). Perhaps this tree was here when Basho was. But, given its age, it is unlikely that it caught his eye. He was too enamored of the Willow, I think, to have given any pause to wee ginkgo seedlings.

The Giant Trees of Tochigi: #78 The Giant Ginkgo of Kaminomiya
Look, I told you there was a sign !

Nowadays, though, at mouth of the path, there are signs for both the Willow and this Ginkgo, so I think that, despite the tourist draw of the Willow, people still make time to wander further along the path and meet this grand old tree.

The Giant Trees of Tochigi: #78 The Giant Ginkgo of Kaminomiya
It's a lovely day for tree-hunting. Maybe I'll make a pit-stop at the Wanderer's Hermitage, that store over there.

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