“It is the pine that extends its arms to receive the first snows in Japan; and the March winds violently shake it to shed the last snows which have tried in vain to veil it. That same pine is present in the rainy season to dispel our gloom; it is there, though perhaps a little scorched, but still relatively evergreen, when summer suns are glowing over the whole land.
“The pine provides also the strings of the harp on which the winds of the dying year strike but cannot tear asunder. It resists Nature’s ukase [rise to the surface] to wear the shroud. Like the constant wife the pine speaks of fidelity. Its sombre evergreen tints may not have the glamour of the mistress, but in Japan the pine has that permanency which inspires confidence, and on which alone lasting affection can be founded.”
– “Japan’s Evergreen Spring”, by Andrew F. Thomas, Travel in Japan, Spring 1935
“The Karasaki Pine Tree (Karasaki no matsu) stands on a walled esplanade in Karasaki village, 5 MN of Otsu near the steamer landing. Its 300 or more immense horizontal boughs, upheld by wood crutches or stone pillars, curve awkwardly, and at the top – 25 ft or more from the ground – tin and wood copings have been placed as a protection against the weather. These arms, some of which measure 200 odd ft. from point to point, reach out like those of a gigantic and repulsive spider, and are almost bare of foliage.
“This weird and unhandsome specimen of a thousand year-old tree illustrates in a curious way the Japanese love for what is bizarre and unsymmetrical. They delight in its deformed figure, and its unnatural and disproportionately long branches. That this monstrous growth, which has none of the nobility of the great Taxodium dislichum of Santa Maria del Tide, in Oaxaca, Mexico, or the fine Banyan in the Botanical Garden at Calcutta, should be considered one of the notable sights in a country filled to overflowing with exquisite things is quite beyond the understanding of foreigners.”
– Terry’s Japanese Empire, T. Philip Terry, 1914
In the nightrain its green fades
Still in the evening breeze
Stands the famous pine tree
— Prince Konoe Masaie (1444-1505)
From the wiki: “Kenroku-en is one of the ‘Three Great Gardens of Japan’. The grounds are open year-round during daylight hours and are famous for its beauty in all seasons. Kenroku-en contains roughly 8,750 trees, and 183 species of plants in total. Among the garden’s historical points of special interest was the Karasaki Pine, a hitsu-matsu, planted from seed by the 13th lord Nariyasu from Karasaki and which lived for 1000 years. It inspired woodblock artist Hiroshige.
“A new ‘Karasaki pine’ has now been planted north of the original location, from a cutting of the old pine.”