Giant Tree Hunt in Hokkaido #2

As I wrote before, finding big trees on googlemap is one of my hobbies. One day when I had things to do in the east of Hokkaido, I went to the following point to visit a giant tree there.

Toyotomi elm stands alone on a roadside in a small local town, Bihoro, in the northwestern part of Lake Kussharo. Guess how old the tree is from the following image. The giant tree is 550 years old and stands out most in the middle of vast farmland.

The local town government designated it as a preserved tree in 1977. Although some parts of the tree trunk surface are damged like being peeled off, etc. by aging, the giant tree looks good on the whole due to the generous public care.

Just think about it: 550 years ago is so long ago, when Japan was still at the height of the samurai era. The historical event just around the time is Onin War, one of the great civil wars in Japan. During the war that lasted for 11 years, Kyoto (the capital city of Japan then) was burnt to the ground. The following old painting depicts the war, by the way. The giant tree was born in the midst of the war, though it was way far away from the battle field.

Bihoro town was settled around 1887. At that time, Hokkaido was still a completely undeveloped area of dense forest. People cut down trees and dug up the roots up only by hand for developing farmland. The giant tree survived such time. Probably, it was standing on the footpath of farmland, and it might have been useful as a landmark. Even when the current road was laid out, it was not cut down. People may come to have some attachment, or it was desitined to keep on being there, I guess.

Seven star tree in Biei

Let me tell you about another famous tree. Do you know Biei town? It is a vast hilly area with a lot of farmland, one of the most popular sightseeing area in Hokkaido. There are some photogenic trees scattered here and there, which attracts many photographers. The avobe photo is a famous oak tree. Once it was used for the advertisement of a cigarette “Seven Stars”, and since then, it has been called “Seven-star tree.”

Compared with the Seven-star tree, The Toyotomi elm may not look so spectacular, but the impact of the giant tree that suddenly appears out of nowhere is tremendous. I’m sure it would be quite a surprise if you found it unexpectedly.

Nameless roadside trees may become giant trees in 100 or 200 years if they are lucky enough to survive. Why don’t you make a google search for giant trees? That will make your drive more enjoyable.

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