Tag Archives: zelkova

The Giant Trees of Tochigi: #69 The Giant Zelkova of Anraku Temple

#69 The Giant Zelkova of Anraku Temple
There’s the tree for all to see.

Number: 69
Name: The Giant Zelkova of Anraku Temple (安楽寺のケヤキ)
Type: Zelkowa serrata
Height: 17m
Trunk Circumference: 6.3m
Age: >600 years
Location: 栃木県芳賀郡茂木町北高岡 (36° 30′ 52″N 140° 09′ 58″E)
Date of Visit: 2012-8-2

#69 The Giant Zelkova of Anraku Temple
It’s bumpy and nubbly but still it’s quite lovely.

This tree stands in front of Anraku Temple. According to temple lore, it was first opened in Tempyou 9 (天平9年, 737CE), was revived in Ouei 13 (応永13年, 1406CE), and received an Imperial Scroll (勅額) in Keichou 14 (慶長14年, 1609 CE). The hall up on the hill was built in Empou 7 (延宝7年, 1679 CE), which makes this the oldest temple in this region. Inside the hall is a statue of the Amitabha Buddha, coming in at a height of 273cm, made in the late Kamakura Period, and designated a prefectural cultural asset. This is a famous temple with a long history. The above-mentioned age is assuming that it was planted during the Ouei Era revival.

Normally, natural monuments and cultural assets are both designated by local Boards of Education. Either the municipal or the prefectural one (unless the object is deemed to be of national importance). Here, the tree follows suit, as the bodies in charge of naming it a natural monument are the Motegi and Tochigi Boards of Education. The statue of the Amitabha Buddha, though, is a cultural asset designated by the Environment Agency. What?

#69 The Giant Zelkova of Anraku Temple
The light, it shines as the look I can’t come up with rhymes all the time I am not your pocket poet.

In the surroundings are many fields, and indeed, an irrigation ditch comes through the grounds and to the zelkova. Planted here and there are flowering daikon and other flowering plants, which serves to soften the severe temple atmosphere. This zelkova has grown on a slant. The information board suggests that most of the branches it has lost were on the building-side of the tree, and were lost in connection with a fire, but it certainly seems as though many branches were lost on the non-building side as well.

#69 The Giant Zelkova of Anraku Temple
Goodbye tree~

These days, it looks like most of the branches were ones that were cut off in the past and have re-sprouted. It’s kind of harsh to keep cutting back such a vigorous tree. As it is an old tree, the insides have surely started to hollow out, but I think that, barring any strange happenings, this tree will continue to be a sight to behold for a long time to come.

I was chased away from this tree by a couple of suzumebachi before I could get as many pictures as I wanted :/

The Giant Trees of Tochigi: #65 The Giant Zelkova of Kitanaka Hachimanguu

#65 The Giant Zelkova of Kitanaka Hachimanguu
That’s a tree!

Number: 65
Name: The Giant Zelkova of Kitanaka Hachimanguu (北中八幡宮のケヤキ)
Type: Zelkowa serrata
Height: 18m
Trunk Circumference: 7.2m
Age: 800 years
Location: 栃木県芳賀郡益子町北中 (36° 28′ 43″N 140° 05′ 41″E)
Date of Visit: 2012-8-2

#65 The Giant Zelkova of Kitanaka Hachimanguu
You can see what I mean about the bark.

About 1.5km south of the Mooka Railway‘s Nanai Station, the Hachimanguu of Kitanaka is enshrined. It’s about 200m west of National Road 294. It used to be called Iwashimizu Hachimanguu (石清水八幡宮, which seems to be a popular name for such shrines). It was founded by Ishioka Saburo (石岡三郎) in the Jishou Era (治承年間, 1177-1180CE). It is assumed that this tree was planted at that time, and that is how the age above was arrived at.

#65 The Giant Zelkova of Kitanaka Hachimanguu
It’s like a big ol’ Muppet face. There’s the eye, and to our right of it is a giant bulbous nose.

In the past, on the opposite side of the path, this tree had a twin, but now only the faint remains of a stump are left to remind us of that one. The remaining one, too, is in questionable health. The bark seems to be peeling off on most of the trunk, and up top, there are several large branches missing.

#65 The Giant Zelkova of Kitanaka Hachimanguu
On a day like this, though, it’s easy to look past the signs of declining health.

In Showa 58 (昭和58年, 1983 CE), the shrine was rebuilt, and now it’s quite splendid. Next door is a community center and field, and both places appear to be well maintained. The information board is almost boastful about the tree and this place, and so I imagine that it’s a place quite important to the locals.

The Giant Trees of Tochigi: #46 The Sacred Zelkova of Nakamura Hachiman Shrine

#46 The Sacred Zelkova of Nakamura Hachiman Shrine
Here is the shrine, and there is the tree, over there in the shadows.

Number: 46
Name: The Sacred Zelkova of Nakamura Hachiman Shrine (中村八幡宮の神木)
Type: Zelkowa serrata
Height: 33m
Trunk Circumference: 5.5m
Age: 800 years
Location: 栃木県真岡市中 (36° 24′ 50″N 139° 57′ 13″E)
Date of Visit: 2012-8-2

#46 The Sacred Zelkova of Nakamura Hachiman Shrine
Behold!

On the left bank of the Kinu River (鬼怒川), about 1.5km east of the Mooka Kinu Park Golf Club, on a bit of high land you’ll find Nakamura Hachiman Shrine. It is a shrine that is blessed with a grove full of huge trees.

#46 The Sacred Zelkova of Nakamura Hachiman Shrine
This tree has a proper shimenawa.

According to the information boards, in Bunji 5 (文治5年, 1189 CE) upon his triumphal return home from taking part in Minamoto no Yoritomo’s (源頼朝) subjugation of the north, local feudal lord Nakamura Tokinaga presented a Gunbai (軍配団扇) to the shrine. At that time, this zelkova was planted. The age above is based on this story being true.

#46 The Sacred Zelkova of Nakamura Hachiman Shrine
Branch. Leaves.

This is a stern, bumpy tree, and the shrine folk say that this is appropriate given the story of its planting.