Nikko Kaido

Nikko Kaido – Ancient Highway Lined with Giant Cedar Trees




Nikko Kaido – Ancient Highway Lined with Giant Cedar Trees

Tochigi Prefecture

Photographed on August 31st, 2003

The “Nikko Kaido” is an ancient highway that starts from Utsunomiya City in Tochigi Prefecture. Here and there along the road stand rows of giant cedar trees (registered as a National Special Historical Site and Special Natural Monument) – sometimes on both sides of the road, sometimes parallel to the side path. Massive cedars are also found at the Ise Shrine and Eiheiji Temple, but not in such numbers. And everywhere inside the Nikko shrine and temple complex, giant cedar trees almost block the light from the sky.

Today – perhaps due to cloudy weather – the cedar-lined road has a gloomy look. Not many people know the story behind the planting of these trees. But an inscription on a commemorative monument says that they were donated to the Toshogu Shrine by a man named Masatsuna Matsudaira and his son Masanobu. Together, they spent 30 years planting more than 300,000 cedars along a total of 37 kilometers leading to the Sannai area and the Toshogu Shrine – along the ancient highways of the Nikko Kaido, the Onari Kaido, the Reiheishi Kaido, and the Aizu-Nishi Kaido.

One of these trees, known as the “Taro Cedar”, stands near the monument that commemorates Nikko’s registration as a World Heritage Site. A local man explained that Taro is about 550 years old, and that some of the other trees are more than 350 years old.

Along the cedar-lined highway, there is a park where reconstructed rustic houses are preserved. One is a farmhouse built in the “Hotoku” style (designed to suit the agricultural lifestyle) by Sontoku Ninomiya, the other a rustic house from the Edo period in the “Kyue-zureke” (old Edo longhouse) style, with moss growing on its thatched roof.

In the Hotoku Ninomiya Shrine in Imaichi City, there is a statue of Kinjiro (Sontoku) Ninomiya reading a book with firewood on his back. But Sontoku’s spirit is not only found in Imaichi.

The tranquility of the ancient cedar-lined highway… The sound of flowing water... The vivid green of the cedar leaves.


栃木県 〔2003年8月31日〕

  宇都宮市〔栃木県〕 から日光街道を進むにつれて、杉の巨木〔国の特別史跡・特別天然記念物〕が

道路の両側に、ときには横道に平行して 途切れ途切れに続いている。

立ちはだかる杉の巨木、伊勢神宮 永平寺でも見る事が出来るが、巨木の数の多さ

更に、日光の境内の至る所に、杉の巨木が空を覆いつくすかのごとく 立ちはだかっている。

今日は曇り空、天気のせいだろうか 杉並木の道は薄暗い。

今 目にしている杉の木が植林された事は、あまり知られていない。

杉並木寄進碑の説明文によりますと、松平正綱とその子 正信の親子二代、30年を

費やして 山内地区と東照宮へ通じる 日光街道 御成街道 例幣使街道 合津西街道

37kmにわたり、30数万本の杉を植え 東照宮に寄進した.......等が書き記されている。

世界遺産 登録碑の近くの太郎杉は樹齢約550年、他にも古い杉の木で


杉並木街道の途中に 公園があり 復元された民家が保存されている。

二宮尊徳 報徳仕法による農家、江戸時代の民家 旧江連家〔きゅうえずれけ〕 草葺屋根にはコケが生えている。

報徳二宮神社〔今市市<イマイチシ>〕には 薪を背負って本を読む 二宮金次郎の像が立っている。


杉並木街道の静けさ、水の流れる音が聞こえてくる、杉の葉は今 青々としている。






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