Kamakura Gingko Tree


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Kamakura and the old Gingko Tree...

March 10, 2010

just saw the news, it fell down this morning ...

can you believe it, a tree of more than 800 years ... is now lying there like a dead elder ...

Probably not uprooted by the snowstorm, but because the roots have been eaten up by old age and could not hold it any more.
He was always a great joy with the yellow leaves in autumn.

It looked like an old friend dead on the ground.

For more than 15 years, I used to go regularly to the the Archery Hall in Hachimangu to practise Kyudo and looking at this huge tree was always a comfort and joy.

The tree was dedignated as a natural monument of Kanagawa prefecture in 1955.

Today, March 10,
The priests and shrine maiden poored consecrated sake over the uprooted trunk, put salt on it and performed purification rituals.
I wonder what will happen to this tree now.

This is a great shock to all who love Kamakura !!

quote from mainichi.jp

. . . CLICK here for Photos !

my giant old friend
has taken a final fall ...
spring storm

quote from 47news.jp

quote from chugoku-np.co.jp


The tree had a trunk circumference of 6.8 meters
and was about 30 meters high.
It is said to have witnessed the
assasination of Minamoto no Sanetomo
源 実朝, September 17, 1192 – February 13, 1219.


Under heavy snow on the evening of February 12, 1219
(Jōkyū 1, 26th day of the 1st month), Sanetomo was coming down from the Senior Shrine at Tsurugaoka Hachiman-gū after assisting to a ceremony celebrating his nomination to Udaijin.
His nephew (the son of second shogun Minamoto no Yoriie) Kugyō (Minamoto no Yoshinari) came out from next to the stone stairway of the shrine, then suddenly attacked and assassinated him.
For his act he was himself beheaded few hours later, thus bringing the Seiwa Genji line of the Minamoto clan and their rule in Kamakura to a sudden end.
© More about Sanetomo in the WIKIPEDIA !

At the left of its stairway used to stand a 1000 year old ginkgo, but the tree was uprooted by a storm at about 4am on March 10, 2010.
© More about the shrine Hachimangu in the WIKIPEDIA !

. . . More English reference


A 1,000-year-old giant ginkgo tree
in front of the main hall of Tsurugaoka Hachimangu shrine here has been knocked down, apparently by strong winds.

At around 4:40 a.m. on Wednesday, a security guard at the shrine found the famous tree -- designated as a natural monument by Kanagawa Prefecture in 1955 -- knocked down with its trunk snapped.

The security guard reportedly heard a loud thumping sound, like that of "heavy covering of snow falling to the ground," about three times at around 4:15 a.m. After hearing a sound like a lightening strike, he found the tree collapsed on the ground.

The maximum wind velocity at that time was 12 meters per second, according to the Fire Fighting Head Office in Kamakura.

Chikayasu Hamano, a professor at Tokyo University of Agriculture, attributed a blizzard from late Tuesday afternoon as the main cause of the tree's collapse, in addition to heavy rain from February that softened the ground. Hamano also commented that it is impossible to save the tree.

At the end of 2009, the shrine started to consider conservation steps for the giant tree, with inspections by Hamano finding no problems with the health of the tree.

Shigeho Yoshida, the chief priest of Tsurugaoka Hachimangu, is too shocked to comment on the matter, a shrine official said. Other priests, who are also in shock, made spiritual gestures by offering rice and sake to the collapsed tree.

The giant ginkgo tree, well known as a symbol of the shrine, was dubbed
"Kakure Icho" (hidden ginkgo) since monk Kugyo hid behind the tree when he assassinated Minamoto no Sanetomo, the third shogun of the Kamakura Shogunate, in January 1219.

source : mdn.mainichi.jp



Photos from my friend Mark Schumacher in Kamakura
(click for enlargement)

Gingko in Kamakura, photos by Mark tree 01

mark tree 02

mark tree 03

mark tree 04 END

Mark Schumacher, Kamakura
GODS of Japan, A-to-Z Photo Dictionary of Japanese Buddhism


大銀杏、倒れる 樹齢1000年、実朝暗殺の舞台





Update March 13, 2010

Maybe they can revitalize the big Gingko Tree ?
Professor Hamano Chikayasu from the Tokyo University of Agriculture is working hard on the problem.

Hopefully the trunk will grow new roots if properly cared for.

According to shrine officials, the trunk will be cut off about four meters above the fracture and planted near the root remaining in the ground after removing extra branches.
source : mdn.mainichi.jp

Update March 13, 2010

大銀杏(おおいちょう The Big Gingko Tree

The trunk has now been cut at 4 meters length, the new part weighing about 17 tons.
It has been replanted about 7 meters west to its old location near the stone stairs.
Many people came visiting the re-planting efforts, which finished at 1 o'clock on the 14th of March, 2010.



Update April 10, 2010

The first green sprouts are showing from the roots!

Three efforts to "revive" the tree:
from the roots, which were left as it fell.
from the newly planted trunk a few meters apart from the old place.
from branch grafts being grown in a tree nursery.

source : takezo
April 10, 2010


Update December 13, 2010

Last night I was wondering about my old friend, and whow, what a surpirze today on TV.

NHK showed a live special about Hachimangu.

They showed the suzuharai, wiping the dirt and impurities of the year in preparation for the new year.
And of course, they showed the tree.

From the roots of the old tree many young spouts are coming up !

And from the implant a few meters afar also new sprouts are coming out of the old tree trunk.
Even without roots it still has the spirit and soul and power to grow and watch over the "young one" next to its side.

They also sell a new talisman with a tiny bit of the old tree branches.


. KAMAKURA ... a Haiku Town  
Takahama Kyoshi

. . . Read my Haiku Archives 2010



Anonymous said...

Yes, it is a shock. I am melancholy.
I visited the site yesterday to
say goodbye to a very very old friend.
I will miss its bright yellow leaves.

Anonymous said...

spring snow
shut down long history
old gingko


I saw the news on TV.

facebook said...

Deborah Russell on facebook

In an old man's shadow the shadow of a gingko.

Anonymous said...

Ram Krishna Singh on facebook
Sad to learn about this great cultural loss. It's part of nature, though.

Anonymous said...

Jonathan Machen on facebook

I loved Kamakura when I visited..sketched while successive waves of schoolchildren dispersed over the grounds..I can't remember the gingko tree, but it must have been watching over me.

Anonymous said...

Diane Dehler on facebook

A tree is a great spirit and a sad thing when they die.

Anonymous said...

Camilla Sayf on facebook

that everything comes to an end
in the fall of a Gingko .....

anonymous said...

I love trees
they are the spirits of the old ones.. guess you could call me a tree hugger..
hugs to your ginko

Anonymous said...

Gabi さん、誠に残念の極みです。


anonymous aha said...

Very poignant Gabi

Anonymous said...

Simple and moving, Gabi, with every word significant.

Anonymous said...


samurai warrior's shadow
hidden by the ginko tree
deeply rooted


facebook said...

huit cent hivers debout
se coucher un printemps
~ ginkgo biloba

Jean-Claude 'Bikko' Nonnet

Cor Kwant said...

Thanks for reacting to my post on my Ginkgo blog. I love the haiku.
Click on my name to read more about the Ginkgo. - Cor

facebook said...

Perhaps a new tree is waiting to sprout from a seedling.


anonymous said...

sorry to hear about your tree; i love trees myself


Anonymous said...

is there any chance they can save the old tree?
gingko trees are not like oaks or maples, but i've never heard of a gingko soo huge!
it's not like rooting a cutting.

anonymous said...

This is an amazing story Gabi...thanks for sharing.
Let us know how the replanting goes.

anonymous said...

So sad, Gabi san.

A terrific tribute to an old friend, though.
It would be so cool if everyone who loved this tree could have a piece of it when they finally cut it up for removal. A small branch for a still-life arrangement or something.
(I'd be tempted to sneak out in the middle of the night with the hedge trimmers.)

Diane Dehler said...

This is an amazing post; the enormity of it's size and its place in people's hearts.

Gabi Greve said...

Yes, he is the biggest, oldest friend to all who lived in Kamakura for a while, he knows our joys and sorrows and watches over it all !!

Gabi Greve - Darumapedia said...

Buson Yokai Emaki 蕪村妖怪絵巻 Buson Monster Scroll
. Yosa Buson 与謝蕪村 (1715 - 1783) Painter and Poet .
鎌倉若八幡銀杏の化物 Kamakura Hachimangu Gingko Tree Monster

. . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . .