Name: The Giant Cryptomeria of Kentoku Temple (乾徳寺のスギ)
Type: Cryptomeria (Cryptomeria japonica)
Trunk Circumference: 5.1m
Location: 栃木県那須郡那珂川町馬頭 (36° 44′ 31″N 140° 10′ 19″E)
Date of Visit: 2011-8-13
Now, this is Nakagawa Town, but before amalgamation in 2005, this was the central part of Batou Town. In the northern part of this central core, surrounded on three sides by mountains lies Kentoku Temple.
This place is famous for its autumn colours, and the temple marks the entrance to a path through the woods that has in the past been recommended in guidebooks.
Following along the path, just behind the main temple, there is a sizable graveyard. The Giant Cryptomeria stands in that graveyard. It stands in the center, slightly separated from the other cryptomeria. The tree stands very tall, and cuts an imposing figure in this peaceful grove. The lord of the Mumo Clan‘s (武茂氏) gravestones are near here.
The Mumo Clan was a branch of the Utsunomiya Clan founded by Utsunomiya Yasumune (宇都宮泰宗), the third son of the 7th Utsunomiya Lord, Utsunomiya Kagetsuna (宇都宮景綱). The Mumo branch was active from 1288 to 1298 CE, but the title was became extinct at the end of the Einin (永仁) period.
However, in Kanshou 4 (寛正４年, 1463 CE), the third son of Utsunomiya Masatsuna (宇都宮正綱), who was called Utsunomiya Kanetsuna (宇都宮兼綱) revived the Mumo branch, and he became the lord of a domain worth 10,000 koku. Kanetsuna established Kentoku Temple as his family temple.
In Kyouhou 16 (享保１６年, 1731 CE), the Mumo Clan gravestones were collected from here and there and moved here. This included a Kamakura Period stone monument. In Showa 43 (昭和４３年, 1968), these were designated a cultural treasure of Batou Town.
The graveyard is located on gentle sloping terrain surrounded by great old cryptomeria, including this one. It really matches its surroundings, and it’s kind of a beautiful graveyard. As this is a graveyard, and as it is at the mouth of a hiking path and as I went on a nice day in summer, and as it happened to be during obon, there were plenty of people around. But none of them gave any mind to the Mumo Clan or to this tree.
I try to show you my Japan. Won’t you show me your Japan?