Centuries-old tree guarding shrine destroyed by typhoon

A 300-year-old Hernandiaceae tree guarding both sides of a shrine in Nago City has been destroyed by Typhoon Sanba, which hammered the city early September.

The huge tree was snapped by its roots from around the Miyazato-mae Utaki in Miyazato district of the city.  Though to be well over three centuries old, the tree measured about 15 meters high, with the body 2.7 meters around.  The tree was snapped from the 1.3 meters height, with a part of the branch falling and breaking the shrine’s roof tiles.

The site of the Hernandiaceae measures 4,171 square meters, and was assigned as a protected species of plant in Okinawa.  The site is called a holy place that the guardian spirit of the area deifies.  Prayers have been offered from in front of the tree for many years.

The district’s big event is Po-Ugami, held the 29th of each September according to the lunar calendar. The event has been held every year for more than 200 years.  The district head, Nobumitsu Miyahara, says “It was good that serious damage didn’t happen to the shrine, but the tree’s becoming hollow was pointed out before.  It is regrettable the old tree was snapped.”