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Encountering a giant tree

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Giant trees in Japan

In Japan, you can find a lot of ancient nature and especially some very ancient trees. They can be found dotted around the country and often in and around Shinto shrine grounds.

Many of them are designated as holy sites and you can often see huge ropes tied around them to indicate that they are sacred trees. Many modern Japanese people refer to these trees as 'power spots' and it is quite common to find tourists flocking to these sites to see the trees from themselves and 'feel their auras'.

In this fascinating blog for Intermediate and Advanced learners of Japanese, Megumi Hachiyama, a Japanese teacher at JOI, tells of her encounter with one such tree.

You can read this blog and learn a lot of new Kanji. It is also a great tool for studying for the upcoming JLPT tests. Some of the vocabulary written here is necessary learning for the examination preparation.

Encountering a giant tree





 場所は佐賀県武雄市若木町、ごくごく普通の田舎道を通って案内板に沿って進むと巨大な樹木が視界に飛び込んできました。「川古の大楠」というのだそうです。 樹齢3,000年・・・恐ろしいほどの迫力壮大な姿に思わず息をのみました




 帰宅して早速調べてみました。 川古の大楠は、日本の巨樹ランキングの3位(本庄の大楠と同位)なのだそうです。 石碑にあった「※三傑」という言葉に納得しました。 そしてランキングの上位のほとんどが九州にある樹木だということもわかりました。 これをきっかけに、九州地区の巨樹めぐりをしたくなりました。

takeo-tree-stone monument



To listen to this blog, please watch our Youtube video.




 場所(ばしょ)は佐賀県(さがけん)武雄市(たけおし)若木町(わかきちょう)、ごくごく普通(ふつう)の田舎道(いなかみち)を通(とお)って案内板(あんないばん)に沿(そ)って進(すす)むと巨大(きょだい)な樹木(じゅもく)が視界(しかい)に飛(と)び込(こ)んできました。「川古(かわご)の大楠(おおくす)」というのだそうです。 樹齢(じゅれい)3,000年(ねん)・・・恐(おそ)ろしいほどの迫力(はくりょく)壮大(そうだい)な姿(すがた)に思(おも)わず息(いき)をのみました


 帰宅(きたく)して早速(さっそく)調(しら)べてみました。 川古(かわご)の大楠(おおくす)は、日本(にほん)の巨樹(きょじゅ)ランキングの3位(い)(本庄(ほんじょう)の大楠(おおくす)と同位(どうい))なのだそうです。 石碑(せきひ)にあった「※三傑(さんけつ)」という言葉(ことば)に納得(なっとく)しました。 そしてランキングの上位(じょうい)のほとんどが九州(きゅうしゅう)にある樹木(じゅもく)だということもわかりました。 これをきっかけに、九州地区(きゅうしゅうちく)の巨樹(きょじゅ)めぐりをしたくなりました。 


Encountering a giant tree

From a while back, there was a single huge tree that I had been curious about, and when I was driving in the car, even though it was quite a distance away, its existence stood out and I often thought to myself that I would love to see it up close one day.

I would pass by it once or twice a month on the way home from business trips, but the other day my wish came true.

The place was in Saga prefecture, in Takeo city's Wakaki town, and I was trundling along a usual country lane following the directions from a notice board when suddenly this huge tree appeared in my field of vision, It was apparently called the 'Kawago no Ookusu' [Ookusu means giant Camphor tree] . It was 3000 years old … and it's form was so astoundingly magnificent and held so much power, it just took my breath away.

When seen from a distance, it looks a bit like a broccoli, but when you see it up-close, you come to realize that the sublime nature of the life and history of harsh times that it had survived through were etched into the hardiness of it's trunk and I was so moved by this survival ability that tears welled up from me. And then this deep emotion seemed to refresh my whole body and then gradually transformed into an exhilarating feeling. I felt that the things that I usually thought about and things that I was perplexed about seemed insignificant in comparison.

After I got home, I quickly looked it up. 'Kawago no Ookusu' is one of the top 3 ranked giant trees in Japan, ranked equal to 'Honsho no Ookusu'. On a stone monument there, the words ※San Ketsu left me with an acceptable explanation. I also found out that most of the top ranked giant trees can be found in Kyushu. I used this chance to take trips around Kyushu island to view more giant trees.

※ San Ketsu indicates three great personages that are chosen from each generation.

巨樹(きょじゅ);giant tree


樹木(じゅもく);a tree

存在感(そんざいかん); sense of existence

際立(きわだ)つ; stand out

叶(かな)う; come true

田舎道(いなかみち); a country path

視界(しかい) ; the field of vision

樹齢(じゅれい); the age of a tree


壮大(そうだい)な; magnificent

息(いき)をのむ; have one's breath taken away

幹(みき); a trunk

たくましい; powerful

生(い)き抜(ぬ)く; survive

荘厳(そうごん)な; sublime

刻(きざ)まれる; be etched in

生命力(せいめいりょく); ability to survive

浄化(じょうか)される; feel refreshed

爽快感(そうかいかん); exhilarating feeling

ちっぽけな; insignificant

納得(なっとく)する; understand


Hajimemashite everyone ! My name is Megumi Hachiyama. I live in Fukuoka prefecture. I have never lived anywhere else other than Fukuoka since I was born, but the nature here is so beautiful and the food is so delicious - I just love Fukuoka ! What part of Japanese or Japan are you interested in ?

I want to share with you the joy of that feeling you get when your "Wakaranai" (I don't understand) becomes "Wakaru" (I understand), and your "Wakaru" (I understand) becomes "Dekiru or Tsukaeru!" (I can use it !))... Looking forward to meeting you.

Start 3 Trial FlexLessons for only $9 !

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Guest Tuesday, 26 October 2021