The Giant Trees of Tochigi: #65 The Giant Zelkova of Kitanaka Hachimanguu

#65 The Giant Zelkova of Kitanaka Hachimanguu
That’s a tree!

Number: 65
Name: The Giant Zelkova of Kitanaka Hachimanguu (北中八幡宮のケヤキ)
Type: Zelkowa serrata
Height: 18m
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

#65 The Giant Zelkova of Kitanaka Hachimanguu
You can see what I mean about the bark.

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.

#65 The Giant Zelkova of Kitanaka Hachimanguu
It’s like a big ol’ Muppet face. There’s the eye, and to our right of it is a giant bulbous nose.

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.

#65 The Giant Zelkova of Kitanaka Hachimanguu
On a day like this, though, it’s easy to look past the signs of declining health.

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.

Fuji, you coy minx!

Fuji, you coy minx!
I’ve only seen Fuji twice. Once, flying over in a plane. Again, riding the shinkansen from Tokyo to Maibara. That time, I was asleep and jet-lagged and woke up because people were making a ruckus in the car. I realized they were taking pics of Fuji, I fumbled for my camera and caught a single blurry shot as we entered the tunnel. That was in 2005 I think, and I’ve not seen it since.
On my road trip in March, I thought I’d definitely see it, indeed, see it from both sides! But when I was in Yamanashi, it was hazy so I couldn’t see it. I drive 1000km in a single day to get this place so I could see it at sunrise and then it goes and does THIS.
You absolute STRUMPET. How dare you.