Tiānmùshān, Zhejiang Province, China
The in-town campus of Zhejiang Agriculture and Forestry University is called Tiānmù, and since I’ve been here in Lin’an, I’ve wanted to see the mountain for which it is named. Barry and I got a chance when our Maui College colleagues came for a weekend visit. Tiān means “heaven,” mù means “eye,” and shān “mountain.” This “Eyes on Heaven Mountain” is the home of about 2,000 species of plants and was once home to numerous Buddhist monasteries.
The mountain gets about 70 inches of rain a year, so we weren’t surprised to find its paths cool and gleaming.
Japanese cedar trees grow to incredible heights on the mountain. One Japanese cedar was named the “Tree King” by Emperor Qianlong during the Qing Dynasty. The tree measured 86 feet and 11 inches in height and needed eight people holding hands to encircle its girth. However, later people stripped the tree of its bark to use for medicinal purposes, so the tree died leaving a looming hulk in the mist.
Now trees are protected to stymie people from stripping the bark.
Also, Tiānmùshān has what is believed to be the last surviving truly wild population of ginkgo trees, some estimated at 1,000 years old.
The mountain does have one functioning Buddhist monastery left.
However, the focus is on nature. The trees have plaques with names and history.
The graves of the monks are unmarked.
Tiānmùshān is a wonderful place to explore.
Zài Jiàn and Aloha, Renée