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Tuesday, November 6, 2012

"The Gajimaru Tree of Igei, Kin Town"

The 'Legs' of the Igei Gajimaru Tree

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The Gajimaru Tree of Igei, Kin Town

     N 26 27.449E 127 52.779

The Gajimaru Tree of Igei, Kin Town

A very familiar, yet peculiar tree can be found throughout Okinawa's landscape. It is the famed Gajimaru Tree, known to many as the Banyan Tree (Ficus microcarpa). Gajimaru Trees are well known to have tentacle-like roots that extend beyond their main trunk. One of the most famous Gajimaru Trees on Okinawa is the 'Ufushu Gajimaru' of Gangala, estimated to be 150 years old (see past article). But what makes the Gajimaru Tree of Igei unique is that its roots have turned into large 'pillars' or legs rather than tentacles. You will rarely find a Gajimaru Tree of this kind.

In 1991 (The year Heisei 3) the tree was measured at 11 meters in height, with 3.9 meters in circumference. The tree used to be the 'center' of Igei. It was used (and still is used?) as a place of prayer and for communal gathering. An ashagi (a hut-like structure where spiritual acts are performed) stands next to the tree, indicating that some kind of religious activity still happens here. The tree is estimated to be over 300 years old, surpassing the famed 'Ufushu Tree' of Gangala by an estimated 150 years.

Author's Note. The tree is designated as a local cultural asset by the Kin Town Board of Education. They kindly ask that no one climbs or hangs on the tree.

Source of information. Explanation sign in Japanese provided by Kin Town's Board of Education.

Directions. The turn-off road extends from Highway 329 in Igei, of Kin Town. It will be at a traffic light. Once you make the turn, it is a straight shot to the tree (the tree will be on your left). Study the map carefully. One of the Landmarks near the area an Esso Gas Station just north of the turn-off. Igei Beach sits on the opposite side of the 329.

Other related articles. Gangala, The Dragon Tree.

Other places to see of interest nearby. Igei Beach.

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