Tag Archives: cryptomeria

The Giant Trees of Tochigi: #9 The Lone Cryptomeria of Ikarugi

#9 The Lone Cryptomeria of Ikarugi
It really does seem lonesome.

Number: 9
Name: The Lone Cryptomeria of Ikarugi (鵤木の一本杉)
Type: Japanese Cedar (Cryptomeria japonica)
Height: 23m
Trunk Circumference: 5.9m
Age: 600 years
Location: 栃木県足利市鵤木町 (36° 18′ 52″N 139° 29′ 27″E)
Date of Visit: 2012-7-25

#9 The Lone Cryptomeria of Ikarugi
Many of the branches are held up by steel supports.

This is called the Lone Cryptomeria, but when you approach it, you realize there are three trunks. The top bit has died off, it looks like, but the side branches have grown long and vigorously. It’s almost pine-like. Or, alternatively, it’s like three bald eagles standing back to back and stretching their wings. I digress.

Here and there on the trunk, you can see a bit of burning. Whether this has anything to do with the top dying off, I cannot say.

#9 The Lone Cryptomeria of Ikarugi
Like I said, it’s pretty flat here.

It is said that, in the olden days, this cryptomeria was planted here, on this small hill, to act as a landmark for travellers on the local road. Before, you could surely see this tree from a long way off, as the land here is quite flat. Now though, you need to be rather close to see it, due to buildings here and there. I’ve heard that there used to be another giant cryptomeria 200m east of this place, but it has since withered and gone.

#9 The Lone Cryptomeria of Ikarugi
What an interesting tree! What a terrible and boring neighbourhood it’s in though!

There’s a small park surrounding the tree and its mound. There’s a swing and… well there’s a swing. I guess at one time kids used to come here to play, but given the number of empty beer cans kickin’ around the park, I’d guess parents don’t do that so often these days.

The Giant Trees of Tochigi: #10 The Giant Cryptomeria of Kabasaki Hachimanguu

#10 The Giant Cryptomeria of Kabasaki Hachimanguu
It’s rather quite an entrance.

Number: 10
Name: The Giant Cryptomeria of Kabasaki Hachimanguu (樺崎八幡宮のスギ)
Type: Japanese Cedar (Cryptomeria japonica)
Height: 30m
Trunk Circumference: 5.2m
Age: 600 years
Location: 栃木県足利市樺崎町 (36° 21′ 42″N 139° 29′ 41″E)
Date of Visit: 2012-7-25

#10 The Giant Cryptomeria of Kabasaki Hachimanguu
Stone stairs, my old nemesis!

When one thinks of Ashikaga City, one may think of it as the place where Minamoto no Yoshiyasu (源義康, later Ashikaga Yoshiyasu, 足利義康), ancestor of the Ashikaga Clan that came to power as shogun in the Muromachi Period, came from. His son, Ashikaga Yoshikane (足利義兼) married the younger sister of Hojo Masako (北条政子), and thereby increased the influence of the clan.

#10 The Giant Cryptomeria of Kabasaki Hachimanguu
This, the main shrine building, and basically everything here are protected cultural properties.

Yoshikane, in his final years, founded Kabasaki Temple (樺崎寺) in Ashikaga, and spent his days deep in prayer there. Kabasaki Hachimanguu (樺崎八幡宮) was founded after his death, and his son Yoshiuji (足利義氏) is enshrined there (though he’s buried at nearby Houraku Temple [法楽寺]). This is an area that is deeply a part of Japan’s national history.

Now, Kabasaki Temple is no more, though the remnants of it were named an important national historical landmark in 2001. Kabasaki Hachimanguu still exists in the old temple compound, though.

#10 The Giant Cryptomeria of Kabasaki Hachimanguu
There’s a bit of damage over here, too.

On the right side of the main shrine building, you’ll see a lone cryptomeria stretching towards the sky. That is this tree. It’s definitely an old tree, but it seems doubtful that it was planted in the Kamakura Period, when Yoshiuji was kickin’ around. No, this is more likely from the Muromachi Period.

#10 The Giant Cryptomeria of Kabasaki Hachimanguu
There! See it? There used to be a branch there.

There’s a great wound on the side of the tree, quite high up, which seems to have been caused by a lightning strike. In photos I’ve seen from 2004, there was a great branch extending out of that area, but it had no leaves — probably already withered from the lightning damage. I suppose in the intervening eight years, it became dangerous and, to protect the buildings around and visitors, it was removed.

The Giant Trees of Tochigi: #12 The Bishamonten Cryptomeria

#12 Bishamonten Cryptomeria
There’s a sign and stuff.

Number: 12
Name: The Bishamonten Cryptomeria (毘沙門天のスギ)
Type: Japanese Cedar (Cryptomeria japonica)
Height: 29m
Trunk Circumference: 7.0m
Age: 600 years
Location: 栃木県足利市大岩町 (36° 22′ 13″N 139° 29′ 22″E)
Date of Visit: 2012-7-25

#12 Bishamonten Cryptomeria
Steps are nice to look at. These are very pretty steps. My knees do not enjoy my climbing the steps though. The day after I was so sore.

From the Ashikaga Racetrack in Yobe-cho, head north towards Mt. Ooiwa along the valley road. Keep climbing the road up and up towards the summit of Mt. Ooiwa. Before too long, at a bend in the road, you’ll see flags and stairs leading up to Saishou Temple (最勝寺).

#12 Bishamonten Cryptomeria
This may seem to be a normal, run of the mill Deva Gate, but it’s all special and stuff. If I understand correctly, it was restored in 2004 as it had started to become a bit run down.

These steps, a protected cultural artifact of Ashikaga City, were constructed in Houei 1 (宝永元年, 1704CE). If you climb them, you will approach Deva Gate (also a cultural artifact) and the main temple building.

The tree here is to the right of the main temple building, but not on the flat ground of the temple compound, but rather on the steep slope beside it. This is the largest cryptomeria in Ashikaga.

#12 Bishamonten Cryptomeria
There’s the tree, at last.

According to the information board, the southwest face of the trunk has a scar running from top to bottom, thought to be the remnant of a lightning strike in the far past. But this is the face directly opposite my vantage point, so I cannot comment on it one way or the other.