The Giant Trees of Tochigi: #35 The Giant Ginkgo of Kannon Temple and #34 The Giant Ginkgo of Kumano Grand Shrine

Number: 35
Name: The Giant Ginkgo of Kannon Temple (観音堂の大イチョウ)
Type: Ginkgo biloba
Height: 17m
Trunk Circumference: 8.8m
Age: 300 years
Location: 栃木県日光市上三依 (37° 00′ 03″N 139° 43′ 28″E)
Date of Visit: 2012-7-23

On the opposite shore from the Kamimiyori Aquatic Plant Garden, if you leave National Road 121 and walk under the Yagan Railway’s Aizu Kinugawa Line tracks, you’ll allegedly find Kamimiyori Kannon Temple. The path under the tracks is a narrow pedestrian tunnel that floods whenever it rains. If you go looking for it, better bring your wellies. If you successfully find the road that leads to the tunnel, and you make it through the tunnel, on the other side you’ll see a flight of stone steps. The tree, and the temple, allegedly lie at the top of it.

Though the tree is large and old, it still has leaves up and down it, allegedly. It is allegedly a male tree.

I say “allegedly” a lot because this is all hearsay. I didn’t find this tree. I couldn’t find any paths under the tracks. I couldn’t find any paths TO the tracks, even. The locals weren’t much help. “Oh, I remember hearing about it once… where was it… hmmm” or “I went there often as a child, but I don’t remember the way, it’s been so long.” So, no photos.

Number: 34
Name: The Giant Ginkgo of Kumano Grand Shrine (熊野堂神社の大イチョウ)
Type: Ginkgo biloba
Height: 35m
Trunk Circumference: 8.4m
Age: 300 years
Location: 栃木県日光市上三依 (37° 00′ 32″N 139° 43′ 34″E)
Date of Visit: 2012-7-23

Along National Road 121, about 1km south of Yagan Railway’s Aizu Kinugawa Line Kamimiyori-Shiobara-Onsenguchi Station, there is the Kamimiyori Aquatic Plant Gardens. The gardens are on the left bank of the Ojika River (男鹿川), but there’s a parking lot on the right bank where you can stop and cross a wee bridge to get to the gardens. If you cross the bridge, immediately to your left there is allegedly a wee shrine, and beside it is the ginkgo, allegedly.

Parts of the main trunk have been lost due to a lightning strike, but small branches are plentiful and the tree allegedly seems quite healthy. It seems to still be growing fatter, so I’ve heard.

These days, the road is on the opposite shore, but in olden times the Akashira Road (尾頭街道) passed along this side, near the tree. Perhaps the image of this ginkgo made an impression in their minds that lasted a long time.

Not in mine though, because I couldn’t bleeding find it! I asked people at that entrance to the garden if they knew, and they had never heard of Kumano Grand Shrine or of any giant ginkgos in the area. I wandered further into the garden and found the main building and asked staff if they knew, and they too claimed never to have heard of it, or seen any giant ginkgos on the grounds. What? What? What? Urrgh!

Come back next week for more trees that actually exist. Sorry.