Mizuho Miyazaki, JAPAN Foward

In the cool night air there is not a streetlight in sight, and the only dim illumination comes from the sky full of stars twinkling above. As I raise my eyes to the constellations on high, a cedar tree stands proud in front of me, and it has a peculiar shape.

We are currently in the north of Yamagata Prefecture, in a small village called Sakegawa. The proud cedar is held dear and considered a sacred tree by the local population. However, recently it has been gaining attention because of its particular shape, which resembles the main character in “My Neighbor Totoro” (Studio Ghibli, 1988).

The tree is near a hamlet called Kosugi, which literally means “small cedar.” To say “large cedar”, you would say “Osugi”, and in a play on words, people in the region call this special tree the “Osugi of Kosugi.”

By - grape Japan editorial staff.