In Tanegashima, I encountered something unrivaled in Japan.
It was the great sago palm tree of Sakai Shrine.
Typical sago palms grow to three to four meters, but this one, at over seven meters, was said to be the tallest in Japan.
It is over 600 years old. This sago palm has been growing here for ages and ages.
My first thought when seeing it was, "How odd."
It has a peculiar shape. Branches grow from a thick trunk and reach out in all directions, twisting and tracing curved lines that create a structure like a huge piece of art.
Similar to an exhibit in a museum, you can keep staring at it and not get bored.
What struck me most about it as I stood riveted was not its status as the tallest in Japan, nor its interesting appearance, but how young it seemed.
It is said to be over 600 years old, yet its fronds are thick and it looks to be growing as healthy as ever.
The tallest of its kind in Japan at 600 years and counting.
Looking at this great-grand patriarch, I felt like I was able to receive some kind of power.
I spoke to the venerable tree as if saying to the gods, "I'll try to work harder."