Name: The Giant Zelkova of Daidouizumi (大道泉のケヤキ)
Type: Zelkowa serrata
Trunk Circumference: 5.2m
Location: 栃木県真岡市大道泉 (36° 22′ 08″N 139° 555′ 28″E)
Date of Visit: 2012-8-2
North of the east end of the Daidouizumi Bridge, where Prefectural Road 44 (The Tochigi-Ninomiya Line) crosses the Kinu River (鬼怒川), below the raised bank lies Sekison Shrine (石尊神社). Here lies the grave of Kouno Morihiro (河野守弘), compiler and writer of the Shimotsuke Kokushi (下野国誌), that is, a history of Shimotsuke Province. Kouno spent his entire adult life on this project, and died utterly penniless. Then, 53 years after his death, on November 10, Taisho 4 (大正４年, 1915), as part of the Emperor’s enthronement, Kouno was posthumously honoured with the court rank of Shougoi (正五位).
I reckon this tree was probably around before Kouno Morihiro was born. I’d guess that the tree was revered long before and long after Kouno’s death.
But no more. I had a heck of a time finding this tree. The roads are very difficult to understand in the Daidouizumi neighbourhood, and my navi wasn’t much help. In fact, I had to go under the ramp up to the riverbank to get to this place. Several times I ended up on top of the riverbank, driving right by this place, and not tweaking to the fact that this was the place, because there was no giant tree.
The source that sent me there had visited in February 2007. At that time, the shrine was smaller, red-roofed, the area poorly maintained. In May 2011, the fellow at the above-linked website took that photo of the tree, seemingly healthy and strong with the renovated shrine. But when I visited in August 2012, it wasn’t there. Only this stump remained. I have no idea what happened, and no one in the area I spoke to could give me any details. It is a mystery.