The Giant Trees of Tochigi: #50 The Giant Zelkova of Oki

#50 The Giant Zelkova of Oki
I drove into the neighbourhood from down there. I saw the tree but wasn’t sure what I’d find when I got closer.

Number: 50
Name: The Giant Zelkova of Oki (沖のけやき)
Type: Zelkowa serrata
Height: 23m
Trunk Circumference: 6.7m
Age: unknown
Location: 栃木県真岡市沖字本田 (36° 23′ 26″N 139° 59′ 14″E)
Date of Visit: 2012-8-2

#50 The Giant Zelkova of Oki
Drove past this scene. Such a big tree in such a tiny space :<

On the left bank of the Gogyou River (五行川), near the boundary of old Shika Village, you’ll find Oooki Shrine. Here, nestled among tightly-clustered homes, is a very large zelkova that is a natural monument of Tochigi.

#50 The Giant Zelkova of Oki
Tighly clustered buildings, indeed!

Until sometime in the Tenshou Era (天正時代, 1573-1592CE), a temple called Fukushuu-ji stood here. When the temple was torn down, this tree was already here, and already extremely large, it is said. For a tree to get large enough to be called a giant, it usually takes at least 200 years, but if this story of Fukushuu-ji is true, then this tree would have to be at least 600 years old.

#50 The Giant Zelkova of Oki
From this angle, it seems big and free and awesome, but it’s still hemmed in by hyperclose buildings.

On the trunk, there are many bumps, probably remnants of old branches. Indeed, in recent years many branches have been cut off. Not because the health of the tree is in question, as it was at the Hackberry of Munakata Shrine, but rather because the plot of land is so narrow, to let the tree grow as it wishes would be troublesome for the neighbours. It’s a little sad, that.