Name: The Giant Cryptomeria of Nikko Shrine (日光神社のスギ)
Type: Japanese Cedar (Cryptomeria japonica)
Trunk Circumference: 6.6m
Location:栃木県足利市名草中町 (36° 23′ 40″N 139° 28′ 31″E)
Date of Visit: 2012-7-25
Nikko Shrine is located 8km north of Central Ashikaga, along Prefectural Road 218 (The Nagusa-Omata Line), on the right bank of the Nagusa River.
This Sacred Tree is on the left once you climb the stone steps to the top. The main shrine building lies to your right. Because it lies a short distance from the main shrine, you may not specifically notice it as you visit, but once you’ve finished praying and turn back from the shrine, you can’t help but notice it standing there, waiting.
As it has grown, this tree has branched into five trunks, though one of them is a bit spindly, so you can be forgiven for only noticing four. There is the possibility that this is a case of several trees growing together at the base, which, as we have seen, is something that often happens with cryptomeria, but I’m not entirely convinced in this case.
The information board says that the foliage shows the tree is full of vigour. I would not necessarily go quite that far. If you look, of the many trunks, only one has a good amount of foliage, and one has none whatsoever. The information board was erected in 昭和55年 (1980) though, so things do age in 30 years. I know!
Still, a tree that seems to be quite old, and one that is as large as this, it’s not unusual to lack needles at any time. It’s not unusual to shed trunks at any time. But when I see this tree standing here at this time, it’s not unusual to hear me sigh.