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Neyagawa-shi, Japan

Kayashima Station

A Japanese train station built around a 700-year-old camphor tree. 

In 1910, the centuries-old camphor tree in Neyagawa, Japan, was a convenient source of shade for commuters at Kayashima Station. In 1972, it was in the way.

The tree in question, known locally as the Big Kusu Tree of Kayashima, is estimated to be around 700 years old, and has long been associated with a local deity in the Osaka suburb. When town officials decided to cut it down to make room for an expansion of the Kayashima Station—a necessary development given the rapid rise in population over the decades—local residents got angry.

And to hear them tell it, so did the tree.

Rumors began to fly about the tree fighting back against anyone who tried to touch it. One man who cut off a limb was reported to have later developed hay fever. A white snake, an animal often associated with Shinto deities, was said to have been seen slithering around the tree. Smoke was said to have been seen rising from the top of the tree. All of this plus public opinion swayed those who had planned to cut the tree down.

Instead, the station expansion was built around the tree. The renovation, including an elevated platform, was completed in 1980 with a rectangular opening in the ceiling that allows the tree, at 20 meters tall, to tower over the station. It is clearly visible from the street, and inside, the base of the tree has become a small shrine. It is surrounded by a fence to protect it from visitors. Or is it to protect visitors from the tree?

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