Good News on Tsurugaoka Hachimangu Tree

A few months back, I wrote about the famous and ancient Ginkgo tree that had fallen over in a storm at the Shinto Shrine of Tsurugaoka Hachimangū in Kamakura, Japan. This shrine, and its tree, are both famous in Japan and elsewhere, and the tree’s demise made local news. The good news, is that early on, people worked to salvage the tree, and the results can be seen easily enough. A family friend in Japan who happens to live near Kamakura took these photos for us in April:

Hachimangu Tree Restoration 2

The new tree is on the left, apparently a graft grown from the old stump, which has also been moved from the original site on the right. The picture is a bit blurry as I am not very good with a scanenr (I’ll fix later). A picture I took in 2007 before the collapse can be seen here (tree is on the right):

Tsurugaoka Hachimangu in Kamakura

And here’s a closeup of the original site of the tree:

Hachimangu Tree Restoration

Notice that the plants and dirt are surrounded by a large, sacred Shinto rope or shimenawa (注連縄), and paper lightning bolts, or shidé (紙垂), obviously for spiritual protection. Hopefully others living in Japan can comment on this more though.

Big thanks to the Ojima Family for the photos! :)


Update: Big thanks to Tornado28 and Johnl for corrections and additional information. :-)

P.S. Unrelated, but I am taking the RHCE Linux certification test tomorrow. It’s a pretty involved test, so let’s up the studying has paid off. Maybe Tenjin will help too. ;)

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5 Comments on “Good News on Tsurugaoka Hachimangu Tree”

  1. Tornadoes28 says:

    That stump on the left with the tree growing out of it is not the stump of the famous ginkgo tree. The old stump from the tree is actually just to the right next to the stairs. What you are referring to in your last photo is the actual remains of the original ginkgo tree. That sacred rope is the one from the original ginkgo tree. I just visited the shrine earlier this month and took some photos. You can see the them here:

  2. johnl says:

    Tornadoes, your pix are informative. I went a few months ago. There seemed to be two efforts to revive the tree. The stump was beside the stairs, I think in the tree’s original location. Further away (to the left if you are facing the shrine) , a section of the trunk was planted in the ground. The photos suggest that new growth is coming out of both sites. The ginko tree is famous for its regenerative power and its ability to resist pollution and other environmental difficulties. Maybe that has something to do with its reputation as a health supplement as well.

  3. Tornadoes28 says:

    Interesting, thank you. I do remember the stump on the left. It does even look like that new growth out of it is a graft from the original. Interesting. The location of the original is the one on the right next to the stairs but that is very interesting that they are attempting to regenerate from both locations. Thx.

  4. Doug says:

    Hi guys, sorry for the late reply. Aforementioned test took up my time until now.

    Thanks a lot for the clarification and good ocmments. I’ll fix the blog right away. :)

  5. Stephen says:

    This reminds me of a huge Ginko in a town near me. I went there for the ceremony for the rebuilding of the Main Hall, but it was the huge 800 year-old Ginko that wowed me. A couple years back it got hit by lighting and burned for more than two days. It was hard to access it with fire engines (they ended un cutting down two other trees) and the problem was it was burning inside the trunk which was hollow, the centre being dead wood. They eventually had to cut the trunk below the half-way mark to get water down to put out the fire.
    The tree, though half the height is doing fine, and it protected the next tallest object, the new Main Hall. Ginko leaves don’t rot and don’t burn well, for that reason Temples often had Ginko trees, and they collected the leaves behind the Temple. In case of fire they heaped the leaves on the fire to put it out. Or so I have heard.

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