Name: Giant Ginkgo of Kaminomiya (上の宮のイチョウ)
Type: Ginkgo (Ginkgo Biloba)
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
I try to show you my Japan. Won’t you show me your Japan?