Tag Archives: trees

The Giant Trees of Tochigi: #35 The Giant Ginkgo of Kannon Temple and #34 The Giant Ginkgo of Kumano Grand Shrine

Number: 35
Name: The Giant Ginkgo of Kannon Temple (観音堂の大イチョウ)
Type: Ginkgo biloba
Height: 17m
Trunk Circumference: 8.8m
Age: 300 years
Location: 栃木県日光市上三依 (37° 00′ 03″N 139° 43′ 28″E)
Date of Visit: 2012-7-23

On the opposite shore from the Kamimiyori Aquatic Plant Garden, if you leave National Road 121 and walk under the Yagan Railway’s Aizu Kinugawa Line tracks, you’ll allegedly find Kamimiyori Kannon Temple. The path under the tracks is a narrow pedestrian tunnel that floods whenever it rains. If you go looking for it, better bring your wellies. If you successfully find the road that leads to the tunnel, and you make it through the tunnel, on the other side you’ll see a flight of stone steps. The tree, and the temple, allegedly lie at the top of it.

Though the tree is large and old, it still has leaves up and down it, allegedly. It is allegedly a male tree.

I say “allegedly” a lot because this is all hearsay. I didn’t find this tree. I couldn’t find any paths under the tracks. I couldn’t find any paths TO the tracks, even. The locals weren’t much help. “Oh, I remember hearing about it once… where was it… hmmm” or “I went there often as a child, but I don’t remember the way, it’s been so long.” So, no photos.

Number: 34
Name: The Giant Ginkgo of Kumano Grand Shrine (熊野堂神社の大イチョウ)
Type: Ginkgo biloba
Height: 35m
Trunk Circumference: 8.4m
Age: 300 years
Location: 栃木県日光市上三依 (37° 00′ 32″N 139° 43′ 34″E)
Date of Visit: 2012-7-23

Along National Road 121, about 1km south of Yagan Railway’s Aizu Kinugawa Line Kamimiyori-Shiobara-Onsenguchi Station, there is the Kamimiyori Aquatic Plant Gardens. The gardens are on the left bank of the Ojika River (男鹿川), but there’s a parking lot on the right bank where you can stop and cross a wee bridge to get to the gardens. If you cross the bridge, immediately to your left there is allegedly a wee shrine, and beside it is the ginkgo, allegedly.

Parts of the main trunk have been lost due to a lightning strike, but small branches are plentiful and the tree allegedly seems quite healthy. It seems to still be growing fatter, so I’ve heard.

These days, the road is on the opposite shore, but in olden times the Akashira Road (尾頭街道) passed along this side, near the tree. Perhaps the image of this ginkgo made an impression in their minds that lasted a long time.

Not in mine though, because I couldn’t bleeding find it! I asked people at that entrance to the garden if they knew, and they had never heard of Kumano Grand Shrine or of any giant ginkgos in the area. I wandered further into the garden and found the main building and asked staff if they knew, and they too claimed never to have heard of it, or seen any giant ginkgos on the grounds. What? What? What? Urrgh!

Come back next week for more trees that actually exist. Sorry.

Good Things on Sunday

Good things I’ve noticed this week:

  • Gatsby Ice-type body deodorant sheets. They are fantastic and I love them to bits.
  • cold showers
  • pigeons flying alongside the car
  • crows taking baths in the waterfilled wheelbarrow across the way
  • moving towards completion of a long-term project that I never thought I’d actually finish
  • salty vanilla chocolates
  • misty mornings with thousand-year-old trees

What good things have you experienced this week?

The Giant Trees of Tochigi #76: The Giant Cryptomeria of Murahi Shrine

#76 The Giant Cryptomeria of Murahi Shrine
Over the bridge of no particular function and through the torii, to Murahi Shrine we go~

Number: 76
Name: The Giant Cryptomeria of Murahi Shrine (村檜神社のスギ)
Type: Japanese Cedar (Cryptomeria japonica)
Height: 45m
Trunk Circumference: 6.0m
Age: 1000 years
Location: 栃木県下都賀郡岩舟町小野寺 (36° 22′ 08″N 139° 37′ 28″E)
Date of Visit: 2012-5-5

#76 The Giant Cryptomeria of Murahi Shrine
This is the tree outside the office.

Along Prefectural Road 75 which runs alongside the Tohoku Expressway, near the meeting with Prefectural Road 282, there lies Murahi Shrine. It lies just to the north of Daiji Temple, which was visited in 1964 by Dr. Edwin O. Reischauer, then US Ambassador to Japan (probably on the same trip that took him to Mibu Temple).

#76 The Giant Cryptomeria of Murahi Shrine
This is the large tree by the stone steps.

It is said that the shrine was founded in Taika 2 (大化2年, 646 CE). The chief god here enshrined is Hondawake-no-Mikoto (誉田別命). Also revered here are Ooyamakui-no-Kami (大山咋神) and Kumano-ookami (熊野大神).

#76 The Giant Cryptomeria of Murahi Shrine
Whatever shall I find up here?
#76 The Giant Cryptomeria of Murahi Shrine
This, the third tree!

In 40 year old Environment Agency data, three trees lists as having trunk circumferences of 6.0, 5.4 and 5.2 meters are said to be here, but it’s so old, and there’s a chance that no one from the agency ever actually came to measure for themselves, so it’s hard to tell for certain which is which, but I’d reckon the one by the stone stairs is the biggest, the one in front of the office is second and the one in front of the main shrine is third. In fact, in this area there are many individual trees that could fit into “giant tree” group, and the entire forest around this shrine is protected as a designated natural monument of Iwafune.

#76 The Giant Cryptomeria of Murahi Shrine
The shrine is also a cultural monument, preserved in association with Hitachi. Wait what?

Of the three trees, the large one by the stone steps is the most impressive. Of the three, this is the strongest one, no doubt, though it cannot be denied that all three are winding down. The one in front of the office has weak foliage, and the top seems… I wouldn’t say withered, but less-than-full, if you catch my meaning. It doesn’t really show up in the photos, because I am not good at photographing things. I’d guess that the inside of the tree is slowly hollowing out. I’m worried that it will fall over in a strong storm one of these years.

#76 The Giant Cryptomeria of Murahi Shrine
Back to the car~