Tag Archives: ケヤキ

The Giant Trees of Tochigi: #53 The Giant Zelkova of Sakuyama

#53 Giant Zelkova of Sakuyama
In a quiet village, off the main road, down someone's driveway, and nestled between a workshop and the river lies the Giant Zelkova of Sakuyama.

Number: 53
Name: Giant Zelkova of Sakuyama (佐久山のケヤキ)
Type: Japanese Zelkova (Zelkowa Serrata)
Height: 22m
Trunk Circumference: 7.1m
Age: 800 years
Location: 栃木県大田原市佐久山 (36° 48′ 30″N 140° 00′ 36″E)
Date of Visit: 2011-5-21

On the right bank of the Houki River lies the community of Sakuyama.

#53 Giant Zelkova of Sakuyama
The Giant Zelkova of Sakuyama is a recognized Natural Monument.
#53 Giant Zelkova of Sakuyama
An information board is near the base of the tree.

 

There, centrally located, off the prefectural road and slightly to the north and tucked behind some houses, there stands a lone, old zelkova tree. In front of it is Dainichi Temple, a small local temple dedicated to the supreme Buddha. Of course, due to its proximity, this tree is often called the Zelkova of Dainichi Temple.

#53 Giant Zelkova of Sakuyama
Though it looks as though it has had a rough life, the tree seems healthy.

The trunk used to stretch to the sky, branches spreading in every direction to create the appearance of a lush hemispherical canopy.

But now, the shape is as you see it. In the early part of this century, the tree was rather sickly, and, so help preserve it for the future, a series of treatments were administered to help it recover. Though recovery was slow (just three years ago, it still looked rather sad and sick), now it seems to be full of life once again.

#53 Giant Zelkova of Sakuyama
The base is broad and beautifully rooty.

In the past, local belief held that the richness of the canopy was a predictor of the harvest: poor and sickly, a poor harvest; full and rich, a good harvest. Though this may be little more than folklore, I hope the local community has a prosperous farming year.

#53 Giant Zelkova of Sakuyama
You can see how trunk looks quite sickly, bark flaking off. You can see where bits have been cut or have fallen off. Yet, now, it seems to be as healthy as ever.

#53 Giant Zelkova of Sakuyama

#53 Giant Zelkova of Sakuyama
With a final glance at the carvings of Dainichi Temple, I'm off to my next destination. What I'll find will surprise and disappoint me.

I try to show you my Japan. Won’t you show us your Japan?

The Giant Trees of Tochigi: #77 The Sacred Zelkova of Shirahige Shrine

#77 Sacred Zelkova of Shirahige Shrine
The Sacred Zelkova is clearly visible as you head north along National Route 4 from the Hoshakuji Junction.

Number: 77
Name: Sacred Zelkova of Shirahige Shrine (白鬚神社の神木けやき)
Type: Japanese Zelkova (Zelkowa Serrata)
Height: 29m
Trunk Circumference: 5.5m
Age: >300 years
Location: 栃木県塩谷郡高根沢町宝積寺 (36° 36′ 56″N 139° 58′ 29″E)
Date of Visit: 2011-5-21

#77 Sacred Zelkova of Shirahige Shrine
The tree, despite its age, is clearly healthy and vigorous.

Shirahige Shrine is located immediately west of National Route 4, a short distance north of its crossing over the Kinu River at Hoshakuji. It is easily visible from the road, and impossible to overlook. However, as traffic on Route 4 is heavy, and the parking area practically nonexistant, do be careful if you choose to visit this tree.

#77 Sacred Zelkova of Shirahige Shrine#77 Sacred Zelkova of Shirahige Shrine

Inside the shrine grounds, beside the massive zelkova, there is a signboard which states that it has been added to the Tochigi’s curated list of trees of historical importance (名木). Another stone pillar proclaiming the tree to be a natural monument in Takanezawa is also there. The pillar calls the tree 「神木欅」Sacred Zelkova.

#77 Sacred Zelkova of Shirahige Shrine
The top of that retaining wall is a couple centimeters above the normal ground level. The bottom of the wall, about a meter below normal ground level.

I think the shrine’s ground level used to be lower.  Perhaps the ground was raised during the building and upgrading of Route 4 after the war. At any rate, a stone retaining wall has been built around the zelkova to protect it.

If one looks closely, one can see new sprouts popping out of roots and here and there. Maybe, in a few decades, we will be able to call this The Parent and Child Zelkovas of Shirahige Shrine.

#77 Sacred Zelkova of Shirahige Shrine
A look back to the entrance. In the distance, National Route 4, and the rise on which Houshakuji is built.
#77 Sacred Zelkova of Shirahige Shrine
A guardian worth of such a tree.
#77 Sacred Zelkova of Shirahige Shrine
Here, too, the aftereffects of The Great East Japan Earthquake can be seen.
#77 Sacred Zelkova of Shirahige Shrine
As the Sacred Zelkova gently waved in the breeze, I head off to my next destination. What will I find there?

I try to show you my Japan. Won’t you show us your Japan?

Giant Trees of Tochigi: #1 The Giant Zelkova of Shinmachi

#1 Giant Zelkova of Shinmachi (by Mullenkedheim)

Number: 1
Name: Giant Zelkova of Shinmachi (新町のケヤキ)
Type: Japanese Zelkova (Zelkowa Serrata)
Height: 38m
Trunk Circumference: 7.4m
Age: 800 years
Location: 栃木県宇都宮市新町2丁目 (36° 32′ 53″N 139° 52′ 31″E)
Date of Visit: 2010-1-31

Just 800m southwest of Utsunomiya City Hall, turn a corner and find yourself in a quiet residential area. Here is the Giant Zelkova of Shinmachi. Despite the homes and shops that have grown up in the area, the tree is so tall it can be seen nearly two kilometers away in Fudoumae.

According to the information board, in the Edo period, the tree stood near the entrance to the grounds of Utsunomiya Castle, and as such served as a landmark for travellers.

The roots seem to have grown under the street and other pavements. Though the environment has become difficult for this Zelkova, it still stands proud and lives vigorously. Some of the branches completely overhang the road. For this to have been preserved in a city area is precious, indeed.

In the pre-war days, there were three Zelkova like this, but now, only the largest tree remains, its companions having been felled long ago. That a single tree survives, though, is a happy thing. Surely, the people who worked to preserve this tree, and still work to preserve it, deserve our gratitude.

#1 Giant Zelkova of Shinmachi (by Mullenkedheim)

#1 Giant Zelkova of Shinmachi (by Mullenkedheim)

#1 Giant Zelkova of Shinmachi (by Mullenkedheim)

#1 Giant Zelkova of Shinmachi (by Mullenkedheim)

#1 Giant Zelkova of Shinmachi (by Mullenkedheim)

#1 Giant Zelkova of Shinmachi (by Mullenkedheim)