The Giant Trees of Tochigi: #66 The Giant Nutmeg-yew of Kakujouin

#66 The Giant Nutmeg-yew of Kakujouin
Here’s the tree, standing proud in the summer sunlight.

Number: 66
Name: The Giant Nutmeg-yew of Kakujouin (覚成院のカヤ)
Type: Nutmeg-yew (Torreya nucifera)
Height: 17m
Trunk Circumference: 6.2m
Age: 500 years
Location: 栃木県芳賀郡茂木町茂木 (36° 31′ 38″N 140° 11′ 02″E)
Date of Visit: 2012-8-2

#66 The Giant Nutmeg-yew of Kakujouin
The temple has a bit of a ghetto feel about it. It’s like someone has built a temple in the front garden as a bit of a folly, and not as a real working temple.

If you were to walk 500m southeast from Mooka Railway‘s Motegi Station, at the base of a mountain you would find Kakujouin. The temple was allegedly founded by Kakuban (覚鑁) on a spot traditionally used to pray for rain.

#66 The Giant Nutmeg-yew of Kakujouin

The nutmeg-yew stands on a flat area along with the temple’s main hall and other buildings (including the home of the priest and his horrible little dog that barked at me the entire time I was there, nonstop). There’s no fence around this tree, but there is a broad shrubbery circle that, I imagine, is suggestive of the temple’s desire that one not approach the tree too closely.

#66 The Giant Nutmeg-yew of Kakujouin
From this angle, it’s clear that it was originally two separate trees.

According to the information board, this was two trees planted closely together and as they grew larger, they became joined at the base, and to look at them, it’s very plausible. Both of the trees are female, and thus it’s probable that the ground is littered in berries every year.