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Saturday, May 23, 2009

Kamo no Okusu - Japan's biggest known tree

蒲生の大楠

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.

Kamo no Okusu - Japan's biggest known tree

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.

Google Map

Kamoh no Ohkusu
Kamoh Hachiman Shrine,
Kamigyutoku, Kamoh-cho, Aira-gun, Kagoshima-ken 899-5302
Tel 0995-52-1211

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