The Chinkapin Tree of Shomyoji Temple

The chinkapin tree standing beside the main hall with its branches spread wide.

The chinkapin tree that is over 700 years old

Takeiishi Munetane (who later changed his surname to Watari), a descendant of Chiba Tsunetane, who became the governor of Mutsu as a reward for his efforts during Minamoto no Yoritomo’s eastern expedition, built Komeiin Temple at this site in 1302. Komeiin Temple was shifted to Wakuya Town with the relocation of the Watari clan in 1591, and it is said that Shomyoji Temple took its place here. Now, Shomyoji Temple is famous for its huge chinkapin tree. This huge tree, estimated to be more than 700 years old, was designated as a National Natural Monument in 1943.

2000-year-old Ohga lotus blooming in the temple pond in summer.

The chinkapin tree said to have been planted by a Kamakura warrior in Watari

Under normal conditions, the northern limit of chinkapin trees is said to be Iwaki, Fukushima Prefecture. Therefore, it is said that the chinkapin tree in Shomyoji Temple may have been brought by hand by a Kamakura warrior when the temple was founded. With a height of 14m, and a trunk circumference of over 8m when measured 1.6m above ground level, this huge tree is impressive. Besides this, there is also a Japanese chinkapin tree that is over 300 years old in the temple grounds. Compared to the chinkapin, this tree has a smaller trunk and body, but it stands strong and tall with many green leaves due to its youth. This was designated as a Natural Monument of Miyagi Prefecture in 2012.

In autumn, many trees turn red and yellow, brightening up the temple grounds.

Seasonal plants and flowers which brighten up the temple grounds

There are many flowers and trees planted in the temple grounds of Shomyoji Temple, possibly because the previous chief monk loved plants. There is much to see throughout the year: plum and cherry blossoms in spring, azaleas in the early summer, hydrangeas during the rainy season, red spider lilies and the beautiful leaves in autumn. Also, the Ohga lotus, an ancient lotus from 2000 years ago that was given by the Sendai Yasoen Garden, blooms in summer. It is recommended to enjoy the plants and flowers of the season as well after viewing the huge chinkapin tree in the temple.

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