Name: The Giant Zelkova of Kitanaka Hachimanguu (北中八幡宮のケヤキ)
Type: Zelkowa serrata
Trunk Circumference: 7.2m
Age: 800 years
Location: 栃木県芳賀郡益子町北中 (36° 28′ 43″N 140° 05′ 41″E)
Date of Visit: 2012-8-2
About 1.5km south of the Mooka Railway‘s Nanai Station, the Hachimanguu of Kitanaka is enshrined. It’s about 200m west of National Road 294. It used to be called Iwashimizu Hachimanguu (石清水八幡宮, which seems to be a popular name for such shrines). It was founded by Ishioka Saburo (石岡三郎) in the Jishou Era (治承年間, 1177-1180CE). It is assumed that this tree was planted at that time, and that is how the age above was arrived at.
In the past, on the opposite side of the path, this tree had a twin, but now only the faint remains of a stump are left to remind us of that one. The remaining one, too, is in questionable health. The bark seems to be peeling off on most of the trunk, and up top, there are several large branches missing.
In Showa 58 (昭和５８年, 1983 CE), the shrine was rebuilt, and now it’s quite splendid. Next door is a community center and field, and both places appear to be well maintained. The information board is almost boastful about the tree and this place, and so I imagine that it’s a place quite important to the locals.