Tag Archives: 神社

The Giant Trees of Tochigi: #54 The Giant Zelkova of Yakumo Shrine

#54 Giant Zelkova of Yakumo Shrine
Approaching the shrine from the street, before you take a single step upwards, your vision is dominated by the Giant Zelkova.

Number: 54
Name: Giant Zelkova of Yakumo Shrine (八雲神社のケヤキ)
Type: Japanese Zelkova (Zelkowa serrata)
Height: 28m
Trunk Circumference: 5.1m
Age: >300 years
Location: 栃木県大田原市黒羽田町 (36° 51′ 38″N 140° 07′ 21″E)
Date of Visit: 2011-5-21

On the left bank of the Naka River, at the east end of National Route 461’s Naka River Bridge, you find Kurobaneta-machi. Before Kurobane Town amalgamated into Otawara City in 2005, you could find the town hall here.

#54 Giant Zelkova of Yakumo Shrine
I do hope those aren't insect holes. I'd hate for something to happen to this tree, like the Giant Evergreen Oak of Takioka Onsen Shrine.

Yakumo Shrine is found on the high ground to the east of the old town hall. Stepping onto the stone staircase leading up to the shrine, you can’t help but notice a majestic tree at the top on your right-hand side. This is the Giant Zelkova of Yakumo Shrine. The thin rope encircling its trunk suggests that herein dwells a kami.

#54 Giant Zelkova of Yakumo Shrine
What a mighty tree.

In 1989, the first survey of Giant Trees was carried out, and this zelkova was recorded. Since that time, the trunk circumference has increased a further 25cm. Despite its advanced years, it’s still managing to carry on strong growth.

From low on the trunk and looking upwards, one can see that there were many branches at one time, but as they get thick, they seem to be shed. Perhaps they become too heavy for their own good. At any rate, in the months and years after such a shedding, this zelkova works to heal itself, and now the wounds of these lost brances are nothing more than lumps and bumps here and there.

Though obscured by leaves on this warm spring day, it seems that, once, long ago, the tree forked further up, but that the southermost half of the fork has been lost. One wonders how wide the canopy may have reached if that fork had continued to grow.

#54 Giant Zelkova of Yakumo Shrine
The roots don't have an easy time of it, but they've made do.
#54 Giant Zelkova of Yakumo Shrine
Before leaving, I gave this tree a hug. I couldn't not, it was just such a warm, inviting tree. I'll come back here one day. But, ever onwards!

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

 

The Giant Trees of Tochigi: #59 The Giant Sawara Cypress of Nasu Shrine

#59 Giant Sawara Cypress of Nasu Shrine
Despite being labelled a tourist attraction, Nasu Shrine's grounds seem to be littered in scrap, and I know not why. Nevertheless, the Giant Sawara Cypress is still a sight to behold.

Number: 59
Name: Giant Sawara Cypress of Nasu Shrine (那須神社のサワラ)
Type: Sawara Cypress (Chamaecyparis pisifera)
Height: 31m
Trunk Circumference: 5.0m
Age: 250 years
Location: 栃木県大田原市南金丸 (36° 51′ 46″N 140° 05′ 17″E)
Date of Visit: 2011-5-21

#59 Giant Sawara Cypress of Nasu Shrine
Of the many giant trees on this path, the Giant Sawara Cypress is the greatest.

The path leading to Nasu Shrine opens up from National Route 461. In 2004, Nasu Yoichi no Sato Rest Area (道の駅 那須与一の郷) opened adjacent to the shrine grounds. Tradition states that Nasu Shrine was founded during the reign of Emperor Nintoku (who is said to have reigned from 313-399 CE and is entombed in Japan’s largest kofun, Daisen Kofun in Sakai City, Osaka). The shrine’s two-storey outer gate is one of Tochigi’s Tangible Cultural Properties. It is a lovely shrine, and it’s a shame about all the scrap littering the grounds.

The Sawara Cypress stands along the path leading to the shrine, set back a little ways from the path itself on the left side. Of course, on the grounds there are many great zelkovas and sawara cypresses, but this one seems to be the largest.

#59 Giant Sawara Cypress of Nasu Shrine
Here, too, stone lanterns have been tumbled by the earthquake of March 11th, and have not yet been righted.
#59 Giant Sawara Cypress of Nasu Shrine
御神木 - Sacred Tree. Bidding farewell, I toddle next door to the Michi no Eki for a brief respite before continuing my adventure.

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?