Conscious choices for optimal health–personal, social, & planetary

Always build around the tree–of course

Whether it’s a restaurant in Ayutthaya, Thailand, or a cantina in Costa Rica, everyone feels better when the structure is built around the tree. The tree is allowed to live, and that soul energy of the living tree showers over all. This is sustainable building at its best!

This is a train station in Osaka, Japan, and when it needed to be expanded for the growing city in the 1970s, the locals protested loudly that the camphor tree across the street would NOT be cut down. And they invoked the spirits, too. Or maybe superstition. Whatever…the tree, believed to be 700 years old, survives and all spirits are pacified. This story is from Colossal, a design website.

700-year-old tree beams through Osaka train station. Photo by Kosaku Mimura/Nikkei
700-year-old tree beams through Osaka train station. Photos by Kosaku Mimura/Nikkei


In the Northeast suburbs of central Osaka stands a curious train station unlike any other. Kayashima Station features a rectangular hole cut into the roof of the elevated platform and, from inside, a giant tree pokes its head out like a stalk of broccoli. It’s almost like a railway version of Laputa.

The large camphor tree is older than most records but officials believe it to be around 700 years old. The story of how this tree and station became, quite literally, intertwined, varies depending on who you ask. It certainly has to do with a great reverence for nature, but also a fair amount of superstition.

Kayashima Station first opened in 1910 and, at the time, the camphor tree stood right next to the station. For the next 60 years the station remained largely unchanged. But an increase in population and overcrowding began to put pressure on the station and plans for an expansion where approved in 1972, which called for the tree to be cut down.

But the camphor tree had long been associated with a local shrine and deity. And when locals found out that station officials planned to remove the tree there was a large uproar. Tales began to emerge about the tree being angry, and unfortunate events befalling anyone who attempted to cut it down. Someone who cut a branch off later in the day developed a high fever. A white snake was spotted, wrapped around the tree. Some even saw smoke arise from the tree (it was probably just a swarm of bugs).

See the full story at

The ancient tree stands, and the busy city goes on about its business around it.
The ancient tree stands, and the busy city goes on about its business around it.