Catrien Ross

Artist & Mystic in Japan



Japan’s Super Typhoon Destroys Roof, Ancient Ginkgo Tree, Catrien Ross New Book Launch

Written by: on February 5th, 20190 COMMENT

Removing Ginkgo Tree from Japanese Kohba Roof

Typhoon No. 24 (Super Typhoon Trami) ripped through Yamanashi on the night of September 30, 2018.

Its winds were the most ferocious I have ever experienced in twenty-five years of living through annual typhoon season in Japan.

My younger brother and his wife were visiting from Scotland and it was our last evening together.

Around midnight, as we huddled around the masonry heater in the main house, we heard an enormous crack sound through the howling.

When the entire building shuddered I knew it could only be the ancient ginkgo tree.

With a girth of more than 3.5m and a height soaring to over 15m this amazing tree had stood tall through some two hundred years of Japanese typhoon battering.

But not this time.

Hours later, when it was safe to check outside, the sight of the damage overwhelmed.

More than half of the ginkgo’s great trunk was still standing, but the upper limbs had twisted off, with the largest crashing down on the roof of the kohba.

Kohba is the Japanese word for a workshop, which at my old minka is a former silk weaving workshop adjacent to the main house.

So heavy were the tree limbs they had snapped the ridge beam and two of the hefty interior beams.

The ceiling was now a gaping hole over which a large limb was lying.

Although the earthen walls were upright and all windows unbroken, there was roofing material lying everywhere, mixed with broken rafters, crumbled plaster, branches, leaves, and yellow ginkgo nuts.

It was one big mess.

Carpenters were so busy with typhoon damage in Yamanashi that not until mid-December could actual repair work start.

Meantime everyday schedules were turned upside down.

And the book launch planned for my new books in late 2018 had to be delayed.

I shall miss the ancient ginkgo tree, which each year until now has given such joy with its amazing harvest of fruit and carpet of golden leaves.

But I am grateful none of us was hurt during that frightening typhoon, and that the main house was undamaged.

The interior of the kohba still requires extensive repair, but as the new year moves into February I am celebrating the new roof with the wood finials I designed.

2019 will be a year of resilience and recovery.

New kohba roof after repair


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