Number: 13 Name: The Giant Cryptomeria of Matsuda Shrine (松田神社のスギ) Type: Japanese Cedar (Cryptomeria japonica) Height: 30m Trunk Circumference: 5.2m Age: 480 years Location: 栃木県足利市松田町宮前 (36° 23′ 46″N 139° 25′ 35″E) Date of Visit: 2012-7-25
This large cryptomeria is behind the front shrine, and in front and to the left of the main shrine. There is a thin shimenawa. It seems this is a sacred tree.
On the tall, slender trunk of this cryptomeria, there are no side branches until the top third or so of the tree. At the very top, it has branched out in three directions, which gives it a lovely canopy shape.
Compared to the other, younger cryptomeria around, this one certainly does stand out as an old one. Nevertheless, it still seems to be a strong, vital tree, with no worries as to its future.
Number: 11 Name: The Giant Cryptomeria of Nikko Shrine (日光神社のスギ) Type: Japanese Cedar (Cryptomeria japonica) Height: 30m Trunk Circumference: 6.6m Age: unknown Location:栃木県足利市名草中町 (36° 23′ 40″N 139° 28′ 31″E) Date of Visit: 2012-7-25
Nikko Shrine is located 8km north of Central Ashikaga, along Prefectural Road 218 (The Nagusa-Omata Line), on the right bank of the Nagusa River.
This Sacred Tree is on the left once you climb the stone steps to the top. The main shrine building lies to your right. Because it lies a short distance from the main shrine, you may not specifically notice it as you visit, but once you’ve finished praying and turn back from the shrine, you can’t help but notice it standing there, waiting.
As it has grown, this tree has branched into five trunks, though one of them is a bit spindly, so you can be forgiven for only noticing four. There is the possibility that this is a case of several trees growing together at the base, which, as we have seen, is something that often happens with cryptomeria, but I’m not entirely convinced in this case.
The information board says that the foliage shows the tree is full of vigour. I would not necessarily go quite that far. If you look, of the many trunks, only one has a good amount of foliage, and one has none whatsoever. The information board was erected in 昭和55年 (1980) though, so things do age in 30 years. I know!
Still, a tree that seems to be quite old, and one that is as large as this, it’s not unusual to lack needles at any time. It’s not unusual to shed trunks at any time. But when I see this tree standing here at this time, it’s not unusual to hear me sigh.
Number: 31 Name: Tarou Sugi of Omiya Shrine (大宮神社の太郎杉) Type: Japanese Cedar (Cryptomeria japonica) Height: 45m Trunk Circumference: 6.7m Age: 530 years Location: 栃木県日光市長畑 (36° 40′ 52″N 139° 41′ 22″E) Date of Visit: 2012-7-23
About 2km west of Myojin Station on the Tobu Nikko Line, on a hill on the left bank of the Nagahata River, there is Omiya Shrine. According to the information board at the site, the shrine was founded in Houki 4 (宝亀４年, 773 CE), so it’s a very ancient place. This tree stands in the main compound of the shrine. It seems to be the guardian tree of this place.
As for the origin of the name, Tarou Sugi… there is no record, so I don’t know! As the largest tree in this area, surrounded by other trees… perhaps the trees bestowed the name themselves? Listen to me, nattering on like a crazy.
This tree is a protected National Natural Monument. There are a lot of other big trees kickin’ around too. And don’t forget, this is in old Imaichi (now a part of Nikko), which is home to the longest cryptomeria-lined avenue in the world. In a town such as this, for this to be the biggest tree, it is surely an important place.