The biggest known tree in Japan, as measured by girth, is the Kamoh no Ohkusu (aka Kamo no Kusu, a Giant Camphor Tree) in Kagoshima prefecture.
The kusunoki, or camphor tree, (Cinnamomum camphora) is an evergreen tree native to southern Japan, Taiwan, south-east China and Indochina. Camphor is a solid aromatic substance with a wide range of uses, including medicinal, culinary, and ritualistic. It is also an insect repellant, as a component of smokeless gunpowder, and in celluloid production.
This massive camphor tree known as "Kamoh no Ohkusu" ("Giant Camphor Tree of Kamoh") is on the grounds of the Kamo Shrine. It has a trunk diameter of 24.2 meters (79 feet), a root circumference of about 40 meters (130 feet), and a height of 30 meters (98 feet). It is believed to be between 1,500 and 3,000 years old.
Kamou no Ohkusu was designated a Special National Natural Treasure in 1952. A wooden walkway was added on top of the exposed root system in 2001, making it possible to walk right around the trunk itself. After a program to rejuvenate the tree, it is now producing brilliant green foliage and masses of small white flowers once again every spring.
It's base is so massive that there is a door in it, suggesting it was once hollowed out for use as, perhaps, a refuge or storage place.
Kamoh no Ohkusu
Kamoh Hachiman Shrine,
Kamigyutoku, Kamoh-cho, Aira-gun, Kagoshima-ken 899-5302
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Saturday, May 23, 2009