Thursday, 27 February 2014

Ancient Camphor Tree on the Hachiko Line

DMU JR East KiHa 110 series runs on the Hachiko Line near Ogose Station
Camphor is a typical evergreen broadleaf tree in Japan. One of the features of this tree is that the trunk becomes big as it grows. Japan's largest camphor tree, which has a trunk with a circumference of 24.22m, is seen in Kyushu Island in the western part of Japan.

Though not to the extent of Japan's largest, there is also a large camphor tree in the Tokyo metropolitan area. It is called "Kamiyatsu-no-Ookusu (a large camphor tree in Kamiyatsu village)", whose trunk has a 15m circumference and its height is 30m. It is listed as Japan's 19th largest and Saitama Prefecture's largest tree. It is estimated to be over 1,000 years. When I visited there, it was rising into the blue sky after the snowfall had let up.

To get to this ancient tree, take the JR East Hachiko Line and get off at Ogose Station. Connecting Hachioji, a western suburb of Tokyo and Kuragano in Takasaki city of Gunma Prefecture, the Hachiko Line penetrates the north-western part of the Tokyo metropolitan area from south to north. The track gauge is 1,067mm and the operation length is 92km. It is a single track with some minor exceptions.

The Hachiko line is divided into two sections at Komagawa. The southern section is a commuter line, electrified at 1,500 V DC; meanwhile, the northern section is a non-electrified, typical local route. DMU KiHa 110 series is operated hourly on average.

Kamiyatsu-no-Ookusu (a large camphor tree in Kamiyatsu village) is seen near Ogose Station
More information aboout the DMU JR East KiHa110 series (in Japanese):