Giant Tree Hunt in Hokkaido #1


Giant trees are symbolic of the nature

Giant trees are nurtured over a long period of time to be symbolic of the nature or climate of the land. They have been the home of various creatures, the object of people’s faith, and the symbol of the region.

Here in Japan we have the world’s oldest wooden building, Horyuji, and the world’s largest wooden buildings, Great Buddha Hall of Todaiji. For Todaiji, people seeked giant red pine trees that has more than 1 meter of diameter with height of 24 meters. It is said people decided to dig at the base of trees rather than cutting down to keep trees from spliting.

Since the ascient times, trees have been used as resources like building materials, wood products, and fuel. Whether it is a huge public building or a individual house, trees are one of the most important resources for human life. On the other hand, it is also true that some trees have been conserved for a incredibly long time like General Sherman in California or The Sagole Baobab in South Africa. Probably such trees have been playing some role important for human society.

the Great Buddha Hall of Todaiji Temple

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Let’s find some rare trees close to home

The reason why I am telling you this is because I have been going out of my way to look for rare trees in Hokkaido. You think it’s strange hobby? It all started when I was looking for something unusual on Googlemap. When I happened to notice a pin of “Cedar in the northern limit of Japan”, I was so shocked because I had believed cedar couldn’t grow in Hokkaido. As I am an agriculture major and have been taught that the northern limit for cedar is as far north as the main land of Japan. No sooner than I found the information, I went to see it. Since then, I have enjoyed searching for rare and giant trees on a map and going to see them.

Cedar in the northern limit of Japan

The cedar is located in Fukagawa, Hokkaido. It is accessible from Asahikawa only by 30 kilometers. It stood alone in the middle of a wonderful rural landscape. A farmer’s house nearby looked as if time has stopped.
The tree is estimated to be over 60 years old. It is said the landowner brought a seedling from main land and transplanted. How could just one tree have withstood the harsh wind and snow in Hokkaido…. As this cedar is academically rare as well, it has been designated as a tree to be conserved by the local government.

Kogane Mizu Matsu – top ten famous trees of Japan

If you have got the taste for giant tree hunting, it is difficult to give it up. On the other day I found a pine tree near that cedar on Googlemap and visited. It is called “Kogane Mizu Matsu”. Kogane(黄金) is town name, Mizu(水) is water, and Matsu(松) means pine tree.

This tree is estimated to be 1,700 years old, with a height of 21 meters and a trunk circumference of 6.2 meters. Because of its enormous size, Hokkaido indigenous people used the tree as a landmark and also as an object for prayer for safe hunting. Even in the modern age, the tree has been loved by people and was selected as one of the top ten of the 100 most famous trees in Japan. Also, selected as a designated cultural asset the for the first single tree in Hokkaido, Kogane Mizu Matsu will be inheritated by the next generation.