Name: The Giant Zelkova of Fujioka Shrine (藤岡神社のけやき)
Type: Zelkowa serrata
Trunk Circumference: 6.0m
Age: 385 years
Location: 栃木県栃木市藤岡町藤岡 (36° 15′ 01″N 139° 38′ 16″E)
Date of Visit: 2012-7-28
Fujioka Shrine lies to the west of Watarase Reservoir (渡良瀬遊水地), which became a Ramsar Site in July 2012. The shrine lies close to the border with Gunma Prefecture (and, indeed, the road I drove after leaving here took me first to Gunma, then Saitama, then Tochigi, then Saitama in the course of five minutes, and after I turned a corner and went over a bridge, I found myself in Ibaraki).
According to information boards on site, the shrine was established in Tengyou 3 (天慶３年, 940CE). Though it has only used the name of Fujioka Shrine since Meiji 8 (明治８年, 1875CE), a shrine has existed here since the middle Heian Period.
On the grounds, many large zelkova can be seen. Of them all, however, the largest is the one to the right of the torii. From the spread of the roots, it appears that this is a very strong tree. On the side facing the torii there is a large scar from what I guess is the loss of a large branch or secondary trunk. The area has been filled in with whatever it is that arborists use to patch large holes in trees like that (I’ve seen it used in zelkovas up and down the prefecture, when they haven’t just bolted steel plates over it).
This tree, and its neighbour on the other side of the torii have large hollows in their bases. The neighbouring tree’s hollow is home to a wee beehive, actually.
I guess that, in the long lives of these trees, not every day has been pleasant and uneventful, but now, here, they seem healthy in their peaceful surroundings.