Name: The Married Couple Cryptomeria of Kurokawa Shrine (黒川神社の夫婦杉)
Type: Japanese Cedar (Cryptomeria japonica)
Trunk Circumference: 5.9m
Age: 500 years
Location: 栃木県日光市宮小来川 (36° 39′ 47″N 139° 37′ 24″E)
Date of Visit: 2012-4-28
Kurokawa Shrine sits near the intersection of Prefectural Roads 14 and 149 in Miyaokorogawa, Nikko.
In Enryaku 10 (延暦10年, 791 CE), because of Sakuanoue no Tamuramaro’s (坂上 田村麻呂) expedition to the northeast to subdue the Emishi, the local god was enshrined here, at what was then called Hoshimiya Shrine (though the shrine is not thought to have been actually built properly until Daidou 1 [大同元年, 806 CE] under the auspices of a newly-promoted Fujiwara official… or maybe due to ongoing trouble with the Northern Fujiwara?).* In Meiji 8 (明治８年, 1875 CE), the shrine was renamed to Kurokawa Shrine.
Prefectural Road 149 headed westbound would, if not for the strategic diversion to the south that it takes, continue straight up the main entrance path of the shrine. Walking up the path, you see the main shrine building, and reaching above it, the Married Couple Cryptomeria. The name, Married Couple, suggests that this is, again, two cryptomeria that have grown together at the base, however, because the join is so high, and the base is so not-wide (unlike the tree at Kasosan Shrine), it’s seems that this is a single tree that has forked. At any rate, this is, indeed, a very close married couple.
*I am entirely not clear about this. There was a Fujiwara with a name I cannot find on the Googles involved in whatever happened in 806. Also my fundamental lack of understanding about how shrines are established and how local tutelary gods are divided, moved, etc., keep me from fully grasping what is going on. If you can correct me, please do so.