The Giant Trees of Tochigi: #41 The Giant Zelkova of Kou Shrine

#40 The Giant Zelkova of Kou Shrine
Okay! I’m here at Kou Shrine! I hear there is a giant zelkova here, but I don’t… see… it?

Number: 40
Name: The Giant Zelkova of Kou Shrine (国府神社のケヤキ)
Type: Zelkowa serrata
Height: 25m
Trunk Circumference: 5.8m
Age: >400 years
Location: 栃木県小山市下国府塚 (36° 18′ 47″N 139° 45′ 51″E)
Date of Visit: 2012-7-28

#40 The Giant Zelkova of Kou Shrine
Oh criminy, there it is.

When you arrive at Kou Shrine, beside a short path, before climbing the stone steps to the shrine itself, to the right you’ll find this tree.

#40 The Giant Zelkova of Kou Shrine
Look at that root! It extends some 10m from the trunk, and really does form a sort of retaining wall on its own. You can also see the information board just thrust into the heart of the roots. Whoever did that wasn’t thinking. At all. In any way. But then, it would have been a civil servant, so it’s not surprising.

The charm point of this tree is its roots. In several places I thought it was a rustic old-timey stone retaining wall holding the tree in, but no, in fact, in all of these cases, it was this tree’s magnificent roots. It definitely cuts a strong figure.

As this is an old tree, it’s not unlikely that the trunk has started to hollow out a bit. Perhaps, because of this, the roots have shouldered the responsibility of keeping the tree up.

#40 The Giant Zelkova of Kou Shrine
You magnificent beast, you.

There is an information board here, but instead of putting it a short distance away, so that it’s clear which tree it refers to but isn’t in the way, they’ve hammered it right into the roots of this tree, with little consideration for the health of the natural monument which they are meant to be protecting. It’s also ruined the view of the east side of the tree, if I do say so myself.