The Giant Trees of Tochigi: #69 The Giant Zelkova of Anraku Temple

#69 The Giant Zelkova of Anraku Temple
There’s the tree for all to see.

Number: 69
Name: The Giant Zelkova of Anraku Temple (安楽寺のケヤキ)
Type: Zelkowa serrata
Height: 17m
Trunk Circumference: 6.3m
Age: >600 years
Location: 栃木県芳賀郡茂木町北高岡 (36° 30′ 52″N 140° 09′ 58″E)
Date of Visit: 2012-8-2

#69 The Giant Zelkova of Anraku Temple
It’s bumpy and nubbly but still it’s quite lovely.

This tree stands in front of Anraku Temple. According to temple lore, it was first opened in Tempyou 9 (天平9年, 737CE), was revived in Ouei 13 (応永13年, 1406CE), and received an Imperial Scroll (勅額) in Keichou 14 (慶長14年, 1609 CE). The hall up on the hill was built in Empou 7 (延宝7年, 1679 CE), which makes this the oldest temple in this region. Inside the hall is a statue of the Amitabha Buddha, coming in at a height of 273cm, made in the late Kamakura Period, and designated a prefectural cultural asset. This is a famous temple with a long history. The above-mentioned age is assuming that it was planted during the Ouei Era revival.

Normally, natural monuments and cultural assets are both designated by local Boards of Education. Either the municipal or the prefectural one (unless the object is deemed to be of national importance). Here, the tree follows suit, as the bodies in charge of naming it a natural monument are the Motegi and Tochigi Boards of Education. The statue of the Amitabha Buddha, though, is a cultural asset designated by the Environment Agency. What?

#69 The Giant Zelkova of Anraku Temple
The light, it shines as the look I can’t come up with rhymes all the time I am not your pocket poet.

In the surroundings are many fields, and indeed, an irrigation ditch comes through the grounds and to the zelkova. Planted here and there are flowering daikon and other flowering plants, which serves to soften the severe temple atmosphere. This zelkova has grown on a slant. The information board suggests that most of the branches it has lost were on the building-side of the tree, and were lost in connection with a fire, but it certainly seems as though many branches were lost on the non-building side as well.

#69 The Giant Zelkova of Anraku Temple
Goodbye tree~

These days, it looks like most of the branches were ones that were cut off in the past and have re-sprouted. It’s kind of harsh to keep cutting back such a vigorous tree. As it is an old tree, the insides have surely started to hollow out, but I think that, barring any strange happenings, this tree will continue to be a sight to behold for a long time to come.

I was chased away from this tree by a couple of suzumebachi before I could get as many pictures as I wanted :/

In Memoria Neglegente

The day we met; I fear I can’t recall
the date nor time. The weather of that week
is also lost within the maze of mind.

Of what we spoke that fated day — that too
is gone gone gone. It matters not with all
that followed then. But we were of a kind.

The day you left; that too I don’t quite know
just when it was or what was said to whom.
That it was ordinary is a fact.

The heavens too, were plain as e’er they are —
no errant star nor nova there was seen.
This haze within my mind is not an act.

And of the days we spent as one, those too
have faded well. The kindest words you had
for me, forgotten now, forever lost.

Your smile, your scent, your eyes and nose and lips;
these things and more have slipped right through the gaps
which scar my mind and seize it just like frost.

But these are merely details in the end.
Remember you, I do, my good, dear friend.

Toilet Rumination.

This fellow and this toilet and this washroom are not at all like me, my toilet and my washroom. THE PHOTO IS AN IMAGE.

I sit on the toilet, as one does. Don’t know what I ate, but it doesn’t agree with me. I’m wracked by another cramp.

As I try to catch my breath, I gaze into the wallpaper, captivated by its texture. The bumps, the gullies, the islands, the rivers. I follow them with my eye, like a tiny Livingstone exploring the Zambezi. Or the Nile?

I catch the reflection of my eyes in the towel rail. What am I doing?

Unbidden, I begin to cry.

As the tears flow, I struggle for a reason. Why am I crying?

The answer, I decide, is as simple as it is complex. Summed up in seven words, but with a lifetime of explanation necessary. A sob escapes my throat.

This is not the life I wanted.

This is not what my life was meant to be.

Sitting at home, alone, always alone, eating microwave dinner from packets and drinking cheap wine and weeping on the toilet. This isn’t what I signed up for.

Through the tears, I contemplate my hands. The light brings the lines in my hands into sharp relief; my hands are like unto young wood, grained and stretched, in this light. These hands… what a waste. They have no one to cook for. No other hand to hold. No one to to touch, to caress, to hug. These hands are wasted on me.

Don’t get me wrong, I never had any illusions about my life. I never expected to be rich, famous, well-loved by the masses and widely mourned when I’m gone. I never expected to live in a mansion with antique furniture and a cleaning lady and a personal assistant. I never expected any of these things. All I wanted was a nice home, with nice things, and friends to share it with. If the home had a nice view, well, that would be a bonus. My mind floats to the parking lot and my neighbours mangy yappy dogs — the only things I can see from my apartment.

I never even expected to be loved, not really. If my parents couldn’t love me, and I couldn’t love myself, how could I possibly expect anyone else to love me? But I did sort of expect that by this point I’d have at least someone, or someones, with whom I could share my life, share my joys and my defeats, someone I could care for in my own, crippled way.

But that can’t ever happen. If it could, it would have by now. It’s too late, I’m alone forever now.

I’m probably not capable of real love anyway, much less a relationship like that. I’m far too mercurial, as living the life of a hermit will make even the warmest and most open of people.

Where did it all go wrong? … is a stupid question to ask. What am I going to do, go back in time and fix it? Nothing works like that, so why even think that? Why even utter such a ridiculous query, even subvocally?

It doesn’t matter. This feeling will pass, and I’ll be content with my lot in life for a little while again. I always am. I never move ahead, I’m always like this. I haven’t changed since I was 16 other than to become more closed, more hard, more defeated.

Every day in every way, I suffer a thousand defeats and die a thousand little deaths.

What am I doing. The toilet is no place to cry. On the sofa, nursing a bottle of Chardonnay, that’s a place to cry. Get on with it.