Kayashima: This Japanese station is built around a 700-year-old tree

In the northeastern suburbs of Osaka’s center stands a curious train station unlike any other. Kayashima Station has a rectangular hole cut into the roof of the raised platform, and from the inside, a giant tree grows and leaves its branches like broccoli.

The big camphor tree is older than most records, but authorities estimate it is around 700 years old. The story of how this tree and this station have become, literally, intertwined, varies depending on what you wonder. This certainly has to do with a great respect for nature, but also a good dose of superstition.

Kayashima Station opened in 1910 and at the time the camphor was right next to the station. For 60 years, the station has remained largely unchanged. But an increase in population and overcrowding began to put pressure on the station and plans for expansion were approved in 1972, which necessitated the reduction of the tree.

But the camphor tree had long been associated with a local sanctuary and a deity. And when the locals discovered that the station officials were planning to remove the tree, there was a big tumult. The tales began to emerge about the tree being angry, and unfortunate events falling on all those who would try to shoot it down. Someone who cut a branch later in the day developed a high fever. A white snake was spotted, wrapped around the tree. Some even saw smoke coming out of the tree (it was probably just a swarm of insects).

Thus, the station managers finally agreed to keep the tree and integrate it into the design of the new raised platform. In 1973, construction began and the new station was completed in 1980. The station even surrounded the base of the tree with a small sanctuary. To this day, the tree still holds thanks to a strong local community and a little superstition. (Via Spoon & Tamago)

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