The Great Cherry Tree, the Oldest Sakura in Teramachi
Sprawling onto the main road in the “temple town” of Teramachi is the Ōsakura-no-Shōgetsuji, or the “Great Cherry at Shōgetsu-ji Temple,” a 400-year-old monumental cherry tree.
Unlike the pinker yoshino cherry, this yamazakura, or “mountain cherry,” grows large white flowers, which can open as wide as 5 centimeters. It also differs in blossoming alongside red and green leaves, providing an air of autumn beauty in the middle of spring.
The Great Cherry at Shogetsu-ji Temple was originally transplanted from Komatsu Castle by the 3rd Lord of the Kaga Domain, Toshitsune Maeda. (He was the son of Toshiie Maeda, the first Kaga Lord for whom the Hyakumangoku Festival is dedicated.) It has since grown straight through the temple’s surrounding clay wall. Warning signs have to be put up as the sakura tree protrudes out onto the sidewalk. It’s even been said to knock horsemen off their steeds in the Edo era.
Despite it’s apparent injuries, it’s heavily protected and blooms every year. The marker indicates that it has been designated a National Natural Treasure of Japan.
Neo-Confucianist scholar and official of the Tokugawa shogunate, Muro Kyūsō, wrote two of his poems in honor of the tree after having seen it here at this temple.
Even the metal seal inside the temple gate reminds visitors of the sakura’s cherry blossoms outside of the blooming season.
Mountain sakura like the Great Cherry bloom a few days later than other sakura varieties, making it a must-see for late arrivals to Kanazawa’s sakura season. Be sure to stop by Kenroku-en Garden Park as well for the chance to see another late-blooming and richly pink sakura: the kikuzakura, or chrysanthemum cherry.
5-5 Teramachi, Kanazawa
Ōsakura-no-Shōgetsu-ji Great Cherry and Shōgetsu-ji Temple are 1 km from Kaname Inn Tatemachi.
About a decade ago Rachel fell off a bus and then fell in love with this traditional-crafts and ice-cream-consuming capital of Japan. Editor and amateur photographer with a penchant for nature and history. Not actually fifty songbirds in a trench coat. (Former penname: Ryann)