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Old tea tree in Japan

The temperature and the soils of Japan are suitable for tea cultivation except Hokkaido. However, if one's expect stable income from tea cultivation, the place has to be south of Ibaragi or Saitama. West south of Japan is considered to be the most suitable tea producing area. You can even see tea tree growing wildly in mountain area. Although Japanese tea tree has 1000 years history in Japan and we see wildly grown tea trees, it is really hard to find large old tea tree. The reason is for the convenience of picking tea tree, people always kept them in reasonable size. The place famous for producing tea such as Shizuoka, Uji, Nara, Saitama and even Ise where people didn't use those trees for producing tea, we can not find huge old tea tree. Northwest of Ureshino in Saga prefecture, there is a famous large old tea tree approved as a natural monument of Japan. This 400 years old tree looks almost like a small forest since approximately 10 trunks are branching out from the root. This tea tree could be the world largest tea trees for the small leaves species. Northern part of Kagoshima prefecture, Makisono, also has famous old tea trees. The oldest tree reached to the termination of its life and died few years ago. The second oldest tree is kept in front of the Makisono town hall. Diameter of this tree is approximately 1.5m. There are also some old tea trees with diameter of 15cm in many part of Japan, but they are not certainly large tea trees.

(Satoru Matsushita)