Usuzumi-zakura cherry tree [淡墨桜]
Usuzumi-zakura is an old cherry tree in Neo Valley (根尾谷) located about 30 km north-northwest of Gifu city.
The tree stands in the park on a hill located about 1 km west of Tarumi terminal station of Tarumi Railway.
"Usuzumi" means "pale sumi".
Sumi is the Japanese black ink for calligraphy, and pale sumi is the color like very light gray.
And, "Zakura" is transformed from "sakura", so it means cherry blossom.
This cherry tree is not popular "Somei-Yoshino" which is planted in most streets and parks in Japan.
It is a kind of wild cherry trees.
The cherry blossoms are light pink in the buds and become white in full bloom.
Then, they change to "usuzumi" color just before the petals fall.
The height is about 16 meters, the branch spread is 20 to 26 meters, and the trunk is about 10 meters around.
The cherry tree is more than 1,500 years old.
According to a legend, Emperor Keitai planted the baby tree in 467.
Around 1913, this tree began to be dying.
On investigation in 1948, Education Ministry decided that it would die down within three years.
The tree was supported with many poles.
The following year, a dentist in Gifu city, who had also been good at treatment of trees, gave this dying tree a treatment.
He cut off 238 dying roots of the tree and put new grafts on the parts.
In the following year, this tree was restored beautifully.
But this tree was damaged by the very strong typhoon in September 1959 (Isewan Typhoon in Japanese / Super Typhoon Vera in English).
In 1967, Uno Chiyo (1897-1996, a female novelist) saw the miserable state of the tree, and she contributed to a magazine to appeal for the need to protect this tree.
At last, Gifu Prefecture launched the protection in 1968.
It is designated a special national natural treasure.
Now many tree doctors and the people in this area protect this old tree heartily.
In 2008, the seeds of this blossom were traveled to the International Space Station for experiment of growth in zero gravity.
The season is from the end of March to early April and the tree is illuminated in the evening during the season.
How to get here
To Ogaki station, by rapid train of JR Tokaido Line, about 30 minutes from Nagoya, about 12 minutes from Gifu.
Then, from Ogaki, by local train of Tarumi Railway, about 1 hour and 5 minutes to Tarumi.
About 20 minutes walk from Tarumi station. (About 1 km)