Number: 25 Name: The Giant Cryptomeria of Kumano Shrine (熊野神社のスギ) Type: Japanese Cedar (Cryptomeria japonica) Height: 40m Trunk Circumference: 6.4m Age: unknown Location: 栃木県鹿沼市下永野山際 (36° 29′ 12″N 139° 37′ 06″E) Date of Visit: 2012-4-30
If you turn off Prefectural Road 15 south onto Prefectural Road 32 (The Tochigi-Kasuo Line), after a long climb, a reasonably long tunnel, and a long descent, you’ll find yourself in the community of Yamagiwa.
On the north edge of the community, at the base of a hill, you’ll find Kumano Shrine.
The Giant Cryptomeria is on the left side of the stone steps up to the shrine. Coming out of the ground, it’s a single trunk, but like so many cryptomeria in Kanuma, it splits partway up. Is this just a forked tree, or is it a union of two trees? There’s another tree there too. It seems like it probably started life around the same time.
If you look about, there’s a small concrete storehouse with the name “Oosugi Shrine” (大杉神社, “Large Cryptomeria Shrine”) written on it. What is this about? I guess this is the big cryptomeria in the name. There’s no shimenawa on this tree, there’s no information board or post like many large trees, there was no one about to ask, so in the end, it’s still a mystery to me.
Number: 28 Name: The Giant Cryptomeria of Tenmanhoshinomiya Shrine (天満星宮神社のスギ) Type: Japanese Cedar (Cryptomeria japonica) Height: unknown Trunk Circumference: 7.4m (upper) / 6.3m (lower) Age: 550 years Location: 栃木県鹿沼市下粕尾松崎 (36° 30′ 25″N 139° 38′ 15″E) Date of Visit: 2012-4-30
If you drive along Prefectural Road 15 (The Kanuma-Ashio Line), in roughly the center of Matsuzaki Village, on the north side of the road at the base of a hill, rising from the surroundings you can see a clump of cryptomeria. Surely, here is a shrine. Among the trees there standing, there are a couple outstandingly large ones. Those trees are these trees.
In this area, there are lots of shrines called Hoshinomiya or Hoshimiya (星宮). Actually, it has been said that Tochigi is has the most shrines of this name of any prefecture. There are 170 shrines of that name, and if we include all shrines that include it as part of their name (such as this one), the number rises to 261. This one, however, also houses a Tenman Shrine, which is unusual.
On the shrine grounds, there are two large cryptomeria that particularly catch the eye. The first is just a little along the path to the right of the stone stairs after you pass through the torii.
The other is in front of the shrine itself, near the teetertotter. There are two or three more cryptomeria here that are worthy of designation and protection, I think.
Number: 29 Name: The Giant Nutmeg-yew of Kanoudai (叶台のカヤ) Type: Japanese Nutmeg-yew (Torreya nucifera) Height: 21m Trunk Circumference: 5.7m Age: >300 years Location: 栃木県鹿沼市口粟野叶桑沢 (36° 30′ 47″N 139° 39′ 44″E) Date of Visit: 2012-4-30
In Awano, near the western edge of the central part of town, there is Kiyotaki Temple. The temple cemetary is about 300m west of it, on a hill called Kanoudai. It’s a pretty great cemetary, actually. The entrance to the cemetary is a narrow road just east of the fence for the Awano Lunch Center, on the north side of Prefectural Road 15.
At the front of the cemetary is a nutmeg-yew — this nutmeg-yew, as it happens. It’s a designated natural monument, but the official name given to it is just ｢カヤの木」, “Nutmeg-yew Tree”. But there are lots of nutmeg-yews hereabouts, so let’s call it the Kanoudai Nutmeg-yew, shall we?
This is a strong single-trunked nutmeg-yew. It’s got a great shape.
Apparently, wild monkeys sometimes cause mischief here, and people visiting their family graves are warned not to feed them, though the monkeys will probably eat any food left behind by mourners on their own. I wonder if the monkeys climb this tree when they come visiting.