Typhoon No. 2 blows over 300 year-old Ako tree at Hamahiga-jima

Typhoon No. 2 blows over 300 year-old Ako tree at Hamahiga-jima

The Ako tree lies exposed after being blown over by the strong winds of Typhoon No.2, Katsuren-Hama, Uruma City.


June 16, 2011 The Ryukyu Shimpo

An Ako tree (Ficus superba Miq. var. japonica Miq.) estimated to be over 300 years-old that stood in the Katsuren-Hama district of Uruma City has been blown over by the strong winds of Typhoon No.2. It was laid bare as it smashed down on the masonry block wall of Hama Junior High School. Local residents believe that a Kijimuna, or Okinawan fairy, lives in the old tree. They love the tree and want to preserve it.

Ninety-four year-old Fumio Asato, a former head of the district, said that although the tree survived the Battle of Okinawa, it began to rot after the war. However, its seeds dropped down into the rotting trunk, somehow giving it new life.

“A Kijimuna fairy lives there in the cavity of the tree. We have heard stories that the fairy sometimes comes out and creeps into the mosquito nets above beds in the houses,” said 84 year-old Isamu Hamajo. At school athletic meetings, locals enjoyed the children’s efforts from up in the old tree and some people rested in the shade that it offered. Hamajo said, “We feel really close to this tree.”

It is now roped off and the broken parts of the block wall have been removed. “We will somehow preserve the tree by transplanting it or using some other method. It means a lot to us,” said the head of Katsuren-Hama Yoshiteru Shinzato as he awaits a decision from the municipal office.

(English Translation by T&CT, Mark Ealey)

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