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Kamou no Ohkusu

Kamou no Ohkusu - the largest camphor tree in Japan
Kamou no Ohkusu – the largest camphor tree in Japan / Masahiko Ohkubo, Flickr / CC BY 2.0

WorldBlue  In short

The largest camphor tree Cinnamomum camphora in Japan and, possibly, world is Kamou no Ohkusu. Circumference of its trunk is 24.22 m!

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GPS coordinates
31.7657 N 130.5695 E
Location, address
Asia, Japan, Kyushu, Kagoshima Prefecture, north-west from the centre of Aira city, in Kamō, next to Hachiman Jinja shrine
Name in Japanese
蒲生のクス (great camphor of Kamo)
Alternate names
Kamō no Ōkusu, Kamou no Okusi, Kamo no Okusu, Gamo Ohkusu, Gamou Ōhkusu
Species
Camphor tree Cinnamomum camphora ((L.) J.Presl.)
Circumference
24.22 m
Height
30 m
Width of crown
34 m

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WorldYellow In detail

Camphor trees

Kamou no Ohkusu, from the other side
Kamou no Ohkusu, from the other side / Tam0031, Wikimedia Commons / CC BY-SA 3.0

Cinnamomum camphora are enormous, evergreen trees that grow in southern China, southern Japan, Korea, Vietnam, as well as many other countries where it has been introduced and often turned into invasive species.

Every part of this tree contains camphor and for centuries these trees have been used for the extraction of this substance, which was used as a food additive, medicine, part of incense, and other products.

These trees can reach an enormous size and some of the largest (if not the very largest) are found in Japan, mostly in ancient temple grounds. At least six camphor trees in Japan have a circumference of 20 m or more and the second largest after Kamou no Ohkusu – camphor tree at Kinomiya shrine, Atami – has a circumference of 23.9 m.

Description of the tree

Kamou no Ohkusu is a very old tree (estimated age at least 1,500 years) and a legendary tree. Legends about the founding of Kamou and unfortunate love stories are linked to this tree. The tree is located on the grounds of Hachiman Jinja – Shinto temple. Every year in November here takes place festivity Donto Matsuri.

The tree at the height of 1.3 m has a circumference of 24.22 m (measured in 2001). At the ground level, the circumference increases to 40 m. The tree is enormous, it rises 30 m tall and the crown has a diameter of 34 m.

The tree has been damaged by the fierce typhoons in 1997 and 2004 but local townspeople do whatever possible to keep care of this natural monument.

Kamou no Ohkusu is a national monument of Japan since 1952. In 2001 there was built elevated walkway in order to protect the root system.

Inside the tree is a large hollow, with an area of some 13 m², just like a pretty large room. This hollow was a popular resting place for homeless people until April 2000, when a locked door was installed in front of this unusual room. Next to the tree is also a school and also children earlier loved to hide in the hollow.

Kamou no Ohkusu is included in the following article:

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