Bodaiji Ginkgo Tree, Nagi Town


Located in northeast Okayama Prefecture, the large ginkgo tree at Bodaiji Temple in Nagi Town draws people from all around due to its 900-year-old history and vibrant yellow leaves during late November. It is believed that the Buddhist reformer Hounen took a branch from another ginkgo tree [Amidadou Ginkgo Tree] further down the mountain and planted it next to the temple as a study when he began his initiation as a monk. Since then, the tree has grown to an enormous size of 40m tall by 13m wide, and a recent DNA test confirmed that it did indeed grow from a branch taken from the other ginkgo tree as previously told.
In late November, the Bodaiji Ginkgo Tree turns a vibrant yellow, covering the surrounding area in a blanket of yellow leaves. Many people visit to take photos, and local children also visit on excursions to see the temple, ginkgo tree, and to collect the autumn leaves, including the vast array of oranges and reds from the other surrounding trees.
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During the peak period [approximately November 17-24] the ginkgo tree is lit up every night for about a week. Many people come to visit during this time, including from neighbouring towns, and even bus tours. Due to the beautiful autumn colours, it is also a great time to climb Mount Nagi, and you can even take the Mt. Nagi A Course directly from the carpark at Bodaiji Temple. The trek takes about 3-4 hours return, and due to extremely rare bear sightings, it is best to have a bell attached to your bag [purchasable from Yama no Eki] or to travel with other people.
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Even if you can’t make it in time to see the leaves turn, it is an amazingly calm and relaxing place to visit all year round. In winter, you can enjoy an isolated area being covered in snow. In summer, the shade of the trees, as well as Nagi’s strong winds provide a nice breeze and a feeling that you are completely surrounded in nature. You might even be lucky enough to encounter a friendly group of cats that live by the temple
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To get to Bodaiji Temple, you will need a car. Follow Route 53 through Nagi until you reach the turnoff for Bodaiji Temple or Harebare Green Resort “Yama no Eki”. If you follow this road up the mountain, you will reach Bodaiji Temple after a 5-10 minute scenic drive up the mountain. There are many other places to visit around the area, including Yama no Eki, which is a restaurant and souvenir shop with a spectacular view that you will drive past, Jabuchi Falls, Yashiki Falls, and, of course, the Nagi Museum of Contemporary Art in the town centre.
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