Name: The Giant Zelkova of Kou Shrine (国府神社のケヤキ)
Type: Zelkowa serrata
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
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.
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.
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.