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    Atsugi mystery tree steeped in base’s history

    Atsugi mystery tree steeped in base's history

    Photo By Vivian Blakely | The “Haunted Tree” that sits on the east side of the flightline of Naval Air...... read more read more



    Courtesy Story

    Naval Air Facility Atsugi

    NAVAL AIR FACILITY ATSUGI, Japan – On the east side of Naval Air Facility Atsugi’s flightline stands a solitary tree surrounded by a thick course rope. It is one of the most well known landmarks of the base because of the mystery that surrounds it.

    It is a crooked tree that grows out rather than upward after being struck by lightening at one point in its long history. The lightning struck the top of the tree splitting its peak in two causing its branches to sprawl in every direction giving it an even more mysterious look.

    “The haunted tree. That’s what they call it,” reflects Yuji Ogura, a training technician with the base Fleet and Family Services Center. “The Japanese have a certain reverence for the tree. They believe there is something sacred or spiritual there.”

    Neither the age nor the history of the tree can be pinpointed. However, the history of the area in which it stands might shed some light on why it is considered haunted by so many.

    According to an article from the old base newpaper “The Skywriter,” published in 1998, there was a village that rested near what is currently known as the Tade River which runs through the base along the golf course.

    For years, a rumor was passed on by the villagers to stay away from the tree for two reasons. One reason being that mothers would give this warning to prevent any of their children from climbing the tree.

    The second reason for this warning has persisted through the years and still surrounds the tree today ... Anyone who tries to harm this tree will receive divine punishment.

    One legend claims the tree took a Japanese sailor's life. The sailor was given the task of cutting down the tree with an axe when the base and flightline were first being built.

    “All of a sudden, the sky got dark,” recounts Ogura. “A rain cloud formed and with it brought a thunderstorm. It started to rain hard. The young sailor was struck by lightening and died out by the tree.”

    No official record has been found of the young Japanese sailor who died by the tree, but this story is only one of many variances of the folklore.

    The history of the area in which the tree stands has a violent background which could shed some light as to why the tree is considered “haunted.”

    According to the same article, much of Japan was constantly involved in feudal conflicts. The Kanto Plain area was not excluded from these feuds. Many Japanese warriors lost their lives as well as their generals in the countless battles that took place in the area where NAF Atsugi now sits.

    Centuries later, after World War II, Japanese sailors who occupied Atsugi were the last to surrender their installation. But they did not surrender themselves. They were ordered by their government to give up the base or they would be made to surrender. They remained defiant against the government and refused to give in.

    The day before Gen. Douglas MacArthur was due to arrive on the NAF Atsugi air field, Japanese pilots took off on their last flight. As for the Japanese sailors left on the ground, they descended into the tunnels that run beneath the base where they committed “seppuku” or stomach-cutting which is considered an honorable suicide by Japanese tradition.

    The true history of the tree and why it is held to such a standard might never be known. Whether people believe the solitary tree that now sits quietly on the flightline is truly sacred or even haunted, one thing is for sure. The tree has witnessed countless years of history creating a strong, eerie energy that remains to this day. What is known is that after all this time, the tree still stands, silently and defiantly on the flightline of NAF Atsugi.



    Date Taken: 04.29.2013
    Date Posted: 04.29.2013 23:20
    Story ID: 106056

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