Ginkgo Biloba, Get Ready for a Gold Tokyo!

As of Tuesday, September 23, we have officially entered the first day of Autumn.

I live in the city of Shinagawa and on my way to Shinagawa JR train station, I walk along the properly spaced and placed trees along the main road along the JR train tracks. The tree I am describing is titled Ginkgo Biloba or at times it is known by maidenhair tree.

According to Wikipedia, “Ginkgo Biloba is a unique species of tree with no living relatives. The ginkgo is a living fossil, recognizably similar to fossils dating back 270 million years. Native to China, the tree is widely cultivated and was introduced early to human history. It has various uses in traditional medicine and as a source of food. Some of the trees have grown up to 50 meters and as old as 2,500 years.”

The Ginkgo I walk by each day is not tall nor 2,500 years old but about 10 meters high and perhaps planted within the last 15 years. I have come across old Ginkgo trees in the past at one of the Buddha temples in Fujisawa. Three people holding hands in circle barely covered the circumference of that tree. Truly a large tree it was. The other two trees I recall were not as large as this one but never the less, it was quite large. The one was located in Shomyoji Temple in Kanazawa Bunko and the last one was at the Teramae city shrine near Kanazawa Bunko.

My mind recorded the seasonal changes these trees have gone through each year. Started by small green buds coming out of the branches during the spring, tolerates hot humid Japanese summer allowing many cicadas with transparent as well as brownish colored wings to cling on to its bark to perform the traditional cicadas concert (without it, it is not a Japanese summer). Then, gradually the weather cools down towards middle of September and enters into the colorful fall season where green leaves change ever so slowly to yellowish color and finally to a bright and vibrant yellow leaves. It remains for a while on the tree until winter father starts to blow cold wind along with harsh rain washes them down from the branches to the street sidewalk.

The tree produces fruits as well and it is quite tasty when cooked properly but it can be a bit expensive. The fruits are often prepared like tempura. Oh, if you happen to walk around the tree when it is shedding the fruits, you will likely remember that experience for the rest of your life. The fallen fruits will emit such a foul order that it is incomprehensible that we pay such a good money to eat this funky smelling fruit, though once the outer layer of fruits are removed, it does not smell bad at all. Do you know that Ginkgo has male and female trees, like many fruit trees?

I am looking forward to my daily walks from my residence to Shinagawa station and back during this transformation of Ginkgo leaves. It is truly a work of art our mother-nature had provided us to enjoy. Take a brief “time out” from your busy schedule when you see something like this and enjoy the moment.

by AustinA

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