Tag Archives: motegi

The Giant Trees of Tochigi: #68 The Giant Zelkova of Sazarashi

#68 The Giant Zelkova of Sazarashi
The remaining side branches sure do make a good show.

Number: 68
Name: The Giant Zelkova of Sazarashi (九石のけやき)
Type: Zelkowa serrata
Height: 17m
Trunk Circumference: 7.5m
Age: 800 years
Location: 栃木県芳賀郡茂木町九石 (36° 33′ 53″N 140° 10′ 13″E)
Date of Visit: 2012-8-2

#68 The Giant Zelkova of Sazarashi
Lovely leaves.

If you turn south from Prefectural Road 338 (The Haga-Motegi Line) near the Yanagida Bus Stop, and drive a short distance, you’ll find yourself in the community of Sazarashi. At the top of a small hill, maybe 700-800 m south of the Prefectural Road, you’ll find this zelkova.

#68 The Giant Zelkova of Sazarashi
There’s apparently only the very outer bit of the trunk left — the inside is completely hollow, and you can actually see right through it.

The main trunk was lost long ago, and what’s left are side branches that have grown from the remaining trunk. There are lots of young twigs, so it looks relatively healthy, but there is a bit of mistletoe here and there that is a bit concerning. There still isn’t too much though, so I can’t imagine it’s affecting the tree too much yet.

#68 The Giant Zelkova of Sazarashi
This tree was pretty neat! I was being chased by scary bugs though, so I didn’t take the chance to walk a bit further away and get a wider shot that would clearly show its unique shape. 🙁

In Genroku 11 (元禄11年, 1698 CE), this land was the domain of Kajikawa Yoriteru (梶川頼照). When on inspection tours of his lands, he would always stop and rest under this zelkova. After several such stops, he decided that this part of his domain should be called Daiboku no Moto (大木の下, “under the big tree”). Though the characters have changed, Kajikawa’s decision still remains, as the bus stop near this tree is called Daiboku no Moto (大木の元).

That’s it! This is the last tree. From next week, no new Giant Trees of Tochigi. There may be the occasional revisit, but the core 84 trees have all been visited (well, except for those three that are gone). I started this project in May 2010 (though my first visits were in January of that year, I didn’t decide to actually Get Them All until May). It’s all over.

I really hope you’ve enjoyed these, and I hope people will continue to pop in and read them from time to time. It’d mean a lot to me. Thanks for reading every week.

EDIT: Actually, I’ve been given a list of a further 31 trees. So uh… there’ll be more Giant Trees of Tochigi. Just give me time. First though, some other trees, and then another Friday spacefiller. But once I get a few days, I’ll be out and about and bagging more trees for you~

The Giant Trees of Tochigi: #67 The Giant Zelkova of Arakashi Shrine

#67 The Giant Zelkova of Arakashi Shrine
Here is the entrance to the shrine!

Number: 67
Name: The Giant Zelkova of Arakashi Shrine (荒橿神社のケヤキ)
Type: Zelkowa serrata
Height: 28m
Trunk Circumference: 5.5m
Age: 700 years
Location: 栃木県芳賀郡茂木町小井戸 (36° 32′ 18″N 140° 11′ 25″E)
Date of Visit: 2012-8-2

#67 The Giant Zelkova of Arakashi Shrine
Tree fungus!

North of Motegi Town Hall, at the top of Mt. Kikyou, the Motegi Clan had their castle. The front of the mountain facing the town is a steep slope, but the rear has a flat plateau perfect for building on. This place is called “Tachi” (舘, that is, mansion, or small castle), so it may be where someone related to the castle once had a home?

#67 The Giant Zelkova of Arakashi Shrine

Arakashi Shrine is located on the east side of this plateau, separated from the castle remains by a small gulley. The deities here enshrined include Kunitokotachi-no-Mikoto (国常立命), Toyoshikumono-no-Mikoto (豊雲野命), and Arakashikone-no-Mikoto (阿良加志古根命). The shrine is said to have been founded in Daidou 1 (大同元年, 806 CE). This shrine lies to the northeast of Motegi Castle, and thus probably served to protect the castle against the evil that flows from that direction.

#67 The Giant Zelkova of Arakashi Shrine
Baseball boy!

Before Manji 1 (万治元年, 1658 CE), there was a three-storied pagoda here. Back then, Buddhism and Shintoism were pretty deeply mixed, and I guess that mix would have made this a pretty impressive shrine. Now, the hall that once housed the image of the Amitabha Buddha is slowly falling down.

#67 The Giant Zelkova of Arakashi Shrine
1) This road isn’t so busy that there’s much chance of pulling out into traffic and 2) no one uses the mirrors even if they are there, soooo…

This zelkova is between the first and second torii on the right, beside the road that goes by the shrine. It’s near the Amitabha hall. The tree isn’t about to wither and die, but it’s not the healthiest either. Though I guess they probably put it in carefully, surely they could have put more thought into the placement of the mirrors.

The Giant Trees of Tochigi: #66 The Giant Nutmeg-yew of Kakujouin

#66 The Giant Nutmeg-yew of Kakujouin
Here’s the tree, standing proud in the summer sunlight.

Number: 66
Name: The Giant Nutmeg-yew of Kakujouin (覚成院のカヤ)
Type: Nutmeg-yew (Torreya nucifera)
Height: 17m
Trunk Circumference: 6.2m
Age: 500 years
Location: 栃木県芳賀郡茂木町茂木 (36° 31′ 38″N 140° 11′ 02″E)
Date of Visit: 2012-8-2

#66 The Giant Nutmeg-yew of Kakujouin
The temple has a bit of a ghetto feel about it. It’s like someone has built a temple in the front garden as a bit of a folly, and not as a real working temple.

If you were to walk 500m southeast from Mooka Railway‘s Motegi Station, at the base of a mountain you would find Kakujouin. The temple was allegedly founded by Kakuban (覚鑁) on a spot traditionally used to pray for rain.

#66 The Giant Nutmeg-yew of Kakujouin

The nutmeg-yew stands on a flat area along with the temple’s main hall and other buildings (including the home of the priest and his horrible little dog that barked at me the entire time I was there, nonstop). There’s no fence around this tree, but there is a broad shrubbery circle that, I imagine, is suggestive of the temple’s desire that one not approach the tree too closely.

#66 The Giant Nutmeg-yew of Kakujouin
From this angle, it’s clear that it was originally two separate trees.

According to the information board, this was two trees planted closely together and as they grew larger, they became joined at the base, and to look at them, it’s very plausible. Both of the trees are female, and thus it’s probable that the ground is littered in berries every year.