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Sapling at the time of first Viking invasion

Takayama is a fascinating city. Like Iwase and Yatsuo in Toyama, Takayama has set aside an area (Sanmachi) that has been restored to its historical glory. Walking down the streets, you can almost feel that you’ve taken a step back in time to the days of the Edo Bakufu (Tokugawa Shogunate) before the Meiji Restoration in 1868.

I was fortunate enough during my time at the College to have worked on a couple of the old restored buildings in Iwase, so what probably stood out more for me was the subject of the photo below.


This is the ginkgo tree (
大イチョウ - ooichou) in the grounds of the Hida-Kokubunji Temple. It is 37 metres tall, and roughly ten metres in circumference at eye level, but what I found really humbling as I stood next to it was that this tree is over 1,200 years old. It was a sapling during the time of the first Viking invasion of England, and it was already a few hundred years old during the Norman invasion and victory by William the Conqueror in the Battle of Hastings in 1066. The stories that this tree could tell… It certainly puts things into a true perspective.

Kokubunji Temple itself is the oldest structure in Takayama, dating back to the late 8th century, although it has been rebuilt and restored a number of times over the centuries. While the temple itself is only quite small and well hidden, the main hall is a wonderful example of temple architecture of that era.


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