Name: Giant Zelkova of Shinmachi (新町のケヤキ)
Type: Japanese Zelkova (Zelkowa Serrata)
Trunk Circumference: 7.4m
Age: 800 years
Location: 栃木県宇都宮市新町２丁目 (36° 32′ 53″N 139° 52′ 31″E)
Date of Visit: 2010-1-31
Just 800m southwest of Utsunomiya City Hall, turn a corner and find yourself in a quiet residential area. Here is the Giant Zelkova of Shinmachi. Despite the homes and shops that have grown up in the area, the tree is so tall it can be seen nearly two kilometers away in Fudoumae.
According to the information board, in the Edo period, the tree stood near the entrance to the grounds of Utsunomiya Castle, and as such served as a landmark for travellers.
The roots seem to have grown under the street and other pavements. Though the environment has become difficult for this Zelkova, it still stands proud and lives vigorously. Some of the branches completely overhang the road. For this to have been preserved in a city area is precious, indeed.
In the pre-war days, there were three Zelkova like this, but now, only the largest tree remains, its companions having been felled long ago. That a single tree survives, though, is a happy thing. Surely, the people who worked to preserve this tree, and still work to preserve it, deserve our gratitude.