Shoboji's Legendary Gingko Tree

Shoboji’s Legendary Gingko Tree at Shoboji Temple, Iwadono, Higashimatsuyama ( previously Hatoyama)

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Previously I wrote about a summer drive we took in the Hatoyama and Higashimatsuyama area where I saw the most impressive gingko tree I’ve ever seen.  Last Autumn we revisited the area to witness the famed Autumn colours in the area. And to see the gingko tree in its golden glory.

Shoboji’s legendary gingko tree

A prayer plaque hangs from the revered gingko tree

The famed and revered gingko tree at Shoboji temple is approximately 700 years old. It is a designated municipal natural monument.

Shoboji's Legendary Gingko tree

From what I can make on the monument pictured above the gingko trees at the shrine were initially planted in commemoration of a kasa completion within the shrine.

The trunk’s circumference is just short of 11 meters and it is approximately 31 meters high. The tree is so tall it is hard to get a photo with the whole thing in!

Shoboji's legendary gingko tree's roots
Shoboji’s legendary gingko tree’s roots

I have always had a love of trees, particularly the roots which completely mesmerise me. So when I first saw the legendary gingko tree at Shoboji I was instantly captivated. Have you ever seen roots like these? 

Best three

Shoboji’s gingko tree has informally been listed on some “best three” lists for gingko trees. It is not the oldest, maybe not even the biggest, but it is certainly extraordinary. A bit of research revealed that the relic was actually formed from several trees merging into one other. Which makes the tree even more remarkable and enchanting. Furthermore, you will notice that the tree is incredibly perched on top of a large slab as you can see in the photos above (taken out of autumn leaf season).

Shoboji’s Legendary 31 meter high Gingko Tree at Shōbōji Temple Higashimatsuyama attracts tourists, worshippers, photographers and even artists as you can see in this picture. On one of our visits there in 2016, there was a band filming a music video. 

I have read that the temple is a power spot, but I think the tree plays more to the supernatural feeling of the area. The temple has been damaged by fire a number of times over its 1,300 years, but the 700 year old tree has miraculously remained unscathed for the most part. 

Best time to see Shoboji’s Gingko Tree

If you want to see the tree at its most resplendent the best time is usually end of November through the first week of December. If you want to see the ground covered in a carpet of gold, its best to wait until the latter – the first week of December. In 2023, it was late to change color, only starting in early December, and so it will probably also be golden for longer. Possibly until mid December, although I’d visit sooner if you want to see volumes of leaves still on the tree.

Light up in 2023

Shoboji gingko light up 2023
Light up 2023

Shoboji’s Legendary Gingko tree will be lit up at night, from 4.30 pm to 9 pm, from early to mid December. The temple haven’t set an end date yet, as they are waiting to see the condition of the leaves. They’ve said, ‘so long as there are still some leaves on the tree’ they will light it up. They’ve tentatively said until the middle of December.

With children

On the grounds of the temple there is a small playground with swings and bars that children can play with. You can incorporate a visit to this magnificent tree and the equally awing temple with a visit to one of the nearby child friendly attractions:

Shoboji’s Legendary Gingko Tree Information

Attraction: Ancient gingko tree at Shoboji / Iwadono Kannon

Address: 1229 Iwadono, Higashimatsuyama, Saitama 355-0065. View on Google Maps.

Hours: 8.30 am to 5 pm in the summer, 8.30 am to 4 pm in the winter, but the grounds are open until 9 pm when the gingko tree is lit up

Cost: there is no admission fee. It is customary to contribute to the prayer box in the temple, however, if you visit at night, it is closed.

Official website.

You can read more about the temple in English here.


Shoboji Temple is on the same road that the main entrance to the zoo is on, route 212, past Daito Bunka University if you are coming from the direction of downtown Higashimatsuyama going toward Hatoyama. If you are coming by bus you can get the bus to this University from Takasaka station on the Tobu Tojo Line and walk 10 minutes to the temple and tree.

There is a small car park above the temple: you walk down a hill and through a tunnel to get to the temple. Or if you park in the larger car park for Monomiyama Park you can walk down a series of steps to the temple and the tree.


    1. There is definitely a … presence / aura / atmosphere… something!!

    1. It really is such a beautiful area and that tree… I guess I am a bit of a tree lover!!

  1. Oh wow, this is just breathtaking. I love places like this, the tricky part for us would be keeping my children from wanting to climb the tree!!

    1. I had the same issue!! Thankfully there are other trees in the temple grounds that I was able to direct them to 🙂 Thank you for commenting <3

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