Jindai Zakura (神代桜), in Yamanashi’s city Hokuto, is about 1800~2000 years old. The tree is the oldest sakura in Japan and possibly in the world. But it still blossoms every spring. This year the blossom was full April the 8th.
It has now been hundreds of year that Jindai Zakura‘s blossom is enjoyed each and every year. According to the legend, the tree was planted by Yamato Takeru, aka Prince Osu, aka the 12th Emperor, during the end of the first century.
While the 12th Emperor’s existence is slightly legendary, the tree is definitely real. And it is at least 1800 years old!
The Jindai Zakura is also the oldest of the official Three oldest cherry trees of Japan. The two others being Usuzumi Sakura of Motosu (Gifu prefecture, about 1500 years old) and Miharu Takizakura (Fukushima prefecture, about 1000 years old).
And the tree is possibly the oldest on Earth as no other one is known to be so ancient. For the last full blossom, around April the 8th in 2017, many people came to the Jindai Zakura.
“During the 12th century, Jindai Zakura was dying, Jikiju Matsunaga, the great priest of Jisso-ji Temple, told Nippon100. The locals were very worried as the tree was already famous, until Nichiren came and prayed for the tree.” At the time, thanks to the master of Japanese Buddhism, the tree came back to life.
Jindai Zakura is an Edohigan cherry tree, 12m high and 11.80m girth. In Japanese, “Jindai Zakura” means “divine generations”.
Right next to the temple where the cherry tree still blossoms each year, the Harbour Terrace is convenient for lunch. The place belongs to French artist Etienne Vormeringer and his wife, and offers an interesting sakura hot-dog, with petals and sakura-flavored local sausages.
How to get there?
The closest station from Jisso-ji is Hinoharu station, in Hokuto (on a JR line, so to be reached with a JR pass). But the station is still 5km from the temple and the Jindai Zakura. So the easiest is to reach Kofu, Yamanashi’s main city (one of the 100 landscapes), about 20 kilometers from the tree and to rent a car there. In any case, the trip from Shinjuku is about 2h30.