The Giant Trees of Tochigi: #18 The Giant Zelkova of Fujioka Shrine

#18 The Giant Zelkova of Fujioka Shrine
Here be the zelkova, see?

Number: 18
Name: The Giant Zelkova of Fujioka Shrine (藤岡神社のけやき)
Type: Zelkowa serrata
Height: 28m
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).

#18 The Giant Zelkova of Fujioka Shrine
It’s a fairly large shrine, actually.

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.

#18 The Giant Zelkova of Fujioka Shrine
There. To look at it, at first, you’d think it’s just wood where the bark has come away, but it’s been treated with something, I think. That crack at the bottom of the wound is slightly worrisome.

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).

#18 The Giant Zelkova of Fujioka Shrine
This is the tree on the left of the torii. Just peeking out of that hole, you can see the bee hive.

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.