Katsura tree, a symbol of descent?
Katsura tree, symbol of descent?
Cercidiphyllum japonicum
orig: 99/04/02

I have collected three cases where ancient books talked about a "Katsura" tree (Cercidiphyllum japonicum) in association with descent of deity characters.

1:A pheasant came from Heaven to lower country to see how Heaven's agent, Ame-no-Waka-hiko was working.The bird stayed at a Katsura treeKojiki and Nihon-shoki
2: When Hiko-HoHo-Demi visited the Sea GodHe waited on (or by) a Katsura treeKojiki and Nihon-shoki
3: When the god(des) of Moon visited another god of the lower countryIt waited by a Katsura treeFudoki of Yamashiro
As above seen, the Katsura tree is mentioned when a god or important person visited from upper country to lower country.
Hito Koto Nushi Shrine in "Katsura-gi" (N.B. "gi"="ki"=a tree) is said to be the placewhere the God descended, according to the shrine's description. Here, there is another example of the "Katsura" and "descent" being connected.

If I stop here, I'd have just presented that the tree has some association with descent, which, as far as I know, is the first finding.

I'd go further. In Ainu, the tree is called "ranko-ni" where "ni" represents a tree. So the specific tree is meant by "ranko". On the other hand, "descent" is called "ranke". To be correct, "ran" is an intrinsic verb meaning "to descend". "Ranke" can be construed as a trinsic verb, therefore, "let it descend".

If the stories in the above table are of Jomon people spoken in Jomon language, "ranke" at/by a "ranko" tree is an interesting phonetic pair.

Another interesting matter is that in two Hachiman Shrines, one in southern Kyushu (Nitta Shrine in Kagoshima prefecture) and the other in Kamakura, there is a road directed toward the shrines.

The road is called "Ran-Katsura" at Nitta and "Dan-Kazura" in Kamakura.

Ran-Katsura or Dan-Kazura has no sensible meaning if the both syllables are to be understood only in Japanese. They can be comprehensive if "Ran" came from Jomon and "Katsura" came from, say, Yayoi or invading (and mixed) people; and two were combined. "Dan" is easy to be considered same word as "Ran" with different pronunciation either by time or by geographical distance.

There is a bridge called "Ko-Rai" which means "descent", that connects the road and the shrine, in Nitta. These facts invite one to think of a god being descended via the road to the bridge.

It is not certain whether Kamakura's "Tai-Ko" bridge can be traced back to the same meaning, like Tai-Ko came from Rai-Ko, essentially the same meaning as Ko-Rai. Many believe that the Kamakura bridge was named after its shape, that is, looking like a drum [= Taiko]. I'm questioning it.

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