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▲Jindai-Zakura (Hokuto City)

In Yamanashi’s Hokuto City, there is a legendary cherry blossom tree known as the “Jindai-Zakura.” Although the exact age of this large tree (10.3 meters) is yet to be determined, its estimated to be between 1,800 to 2,000 years old—making it the oldest cherry blossom tree in Japan and perhaps the world.

Tales of the Jindai-Zakura’s roots trace all the way back to Japan’s legendary Yamato Takeru, also known as “Prince Otsu.” He served as Japan’s 12th Emperor, and it is said that he was the legendary figure who planted this tree when he traveled to the region during the first century. However, he is not the only famous figure to be associated with the tree. Buddhist Priest Nichiren (1222-1282) is also said to have encountered the tree at a time when it was withering and looked as if it would soon die. Seeing it in this dismal state saddened Nichiren, and it is said that he prayed for its recovery. Not long after, it seemed to completely recover, and adopted the name “myoho-zakura,” meaning “Saddharma cherry blossom.”


Inside the precinct of Jissoji Temple, where the tree is housed, you can spot another interesting tree—the Uchu Zakura (space cherry blossom). It is a smaller tree, cultivated from seeds taken from the Jindai-Zakura, but that isn’t the only thing that makes this tree special. Back in November of 2009, these very seeds from the Jindai-Zakura were taken into space by NASA, and they spent approximately eight months circling the globe in the space station. Out of the 118 seeds brought to space, only two managed to bloom, one being the Uchu Zakura at Jissoji Temple. Interestingly enough, although a typical cherry blossom has only five petals—those of this tree have six.

This year (2020), temperatures have been a little warmer than usual. According to reports from the Japan Meteorological Agency, cherry blossom season is expected to start early, beginning on March 20th with flowers coming to full bloom by the 27th. The trees at Jissoji Temple are especially popular, so try to come on a weekday to avoid the crowds. Don’t forget to take in the ephemeral beauty of these special cherry blossoms on your next trip to Yamanashi!


More Info

Hokuto Tourism Association website:

Address: 2763, Mukawacho Yamataka, Hokuto-shi, Yamanashi
Search for "Yamataka Jindaizakura"

Published on

  • April 14, 2022


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