Name: The Giant Ginkgo of Banna Temple (鑁阿寺のイチョウ)
Type: Ginkgo (Ginkgo Biloba)
Trunk Circumference: 8.5m
Age: 550 years
Location: 栃木県足利市家富町 (36° 20′ 13″N 139° 27′ 07″E)
Date of Visit: 2012-7-25
In the grounds of Banna Temple (鑁阿寺), there is a two-storey pagoda. This ginkgo sits in front of it. Whether this is a single, double-trunked tree or two trees that have grown together at the base, I cannot say. The tree seems to be in excellent health, and the location cannot be beat.
When we think of Ashikaga, those whose first thoughts are of Ashikaga Takauji (足利尊氏), founder of the Ashikaga Shogunate/Muromachi Period are legion. However, Banna Temple was founded by an earlier generation of the Ashikaga Clan, back in early Kamakura Period. Ashikaga Yoshikane (足利義兼) was the founder of this temple. Yoshikane was Takauji’s ancestor from six generations before, and who took part when Minamoto no Yoritomo (源頼朝) raised his army.
In Kenkyuu 7 (建久７年, 1196CE), Yoshikane started organizing the construction of Kabasaki Temple and Banna Temple. In the beginning, it was going to be called Horiuchi Enshrinement Hall (堀内御堂), but after Yoshikane’s death in 1199, it was named Banna Temple, after Yoshikane’s posthumous Buddhist name.