Do you know how large Japan’s biggest tree is, and where it stands?
The largest circumference for a Japanese tree is 24.22 meters, according to a survey by the Environment Ministry. It belongs to Kamou no Okusu, a huge camphor tree on the premises of Kamou Hachiman Jinja shrine in Aira, a city in central Kagoshima Prefecture.
Signs about the tree proudly stand in many parts of Aira. Those who visit the shrine to see it say the tree seems like a small building. Rugged, complex patterns can be seen on the trunk, and the tree’s roots resemble the toes of Godzilla. Local residents say there is a large hollow space inside.
Birds rest on the tree’s branches, which spread out in all different directions. The trunk is covered in thick ferns and moss — making the huge tree, estimated to be 1,500 years old — look like an independent ecosystem.
Yuseiji temple chief priest Ataka Fujitani, 56, recalled his childhood, saying: “There were no fences around the tree, so this was a playground that was part of our daily lives. We could climb on it and enter through the hole in the tree.”
Fujitani participates in activities for a nonprofit organization that aims to vitalize the local community. The huge camphor tree has been a symbol of the city for a long time.