The Zelkova Trees of Seikei University

A Tokyo entry in the 100 Soundscapes of Japan

By Sleiman Azizi    - 2 min read

Located on the grounds of Seikei University, a private college in Kichijoji in Musashino City in Tokyo, you'll find rows of trees lining the path to the university's entrance. These zelkova trees, of which there are more than one hundred, are close to a century old. Beautiful as they are to the eyes, it is actually the impression these trees make on the ears that have earned them and the city national admiration.

These zelkova trees have been designated a natural property by Musashino City with the national government seeing it fit to include them as one of Tokyo's representatives in the nation's 100 Soundscapes of Japan listing.

The trees form a subtle yet beautiful aural experience (Photo: Dick Thomas Johnson)
The trees form a subtle yet beautiful aural experience (Photo: Dick Thomas Johnson)

It might not seem much but the rustle of the wind as it makes its way through branches and leaves of the nation's foliage has more than its fair share of admirers. And while thickets of bamboo, for example, are much appreciated for their acoustics, these zelkova trees offer a touch more of the ephemeral.

The trees can be heard throughout the year though it is recommended that visitors arrive in the morning for the best experience and that they continue on for about 500m along the tree-lined path until they are well away from the sounds of the main road outside.

The trees are now listed on the 100 Soundscapes of Japan (Photo: Dick Thomas Johnson)
The trees are now listed on the 100 Soundscapes of Japan (Photo: Dick Thomas Johnson)

Like the other ninety-nine soundscapes chosen to help encourage people become more aware of their local areas, the zelkova trees of Seikei University are an elegant reminder that beauty comes in all shapes... and sounds.

Getting there

The university is a 15-minute walk from Kichijoji Station on the the JR Chuo Line, the Keio Inokashira Line or the Tozai Subway Lines.

You can take a KANTO Bus from Bus Stop 1 or 2 from Kichijoji Station's North Exit or from the South Exit of Seibu Yagisawa Station on the Seibu Shinjuku Line. From either station, get off at the Seikeigakuen-mae bus stop.

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Sleiman Azizi

Sleiman Azizi @sleiman.azizi

A Japanese Permanent Resident, I drool over proper soba and sushi while Japanese aesthetics ticks all the right boxes for me.With over 100 published articles on Japan as well as 5 English language books written in a traditional Japanese style, I also happen enjoy writing. Funny that...I'm also the Regional Partner for Tokyo, Japan's never ending capital, so if you've anything to say about Tokyo - or Japan in general - don't be shy and contact with me via sleiman.azizi@japantravel.com

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Elizabeth Scally a month ago
Tokyo sure has it all, exciting places and so much natural beauty like this avenue of trees.
Sleiman Azizi Author 4 weeks ago
The mother of cities? I don’t know but geez, it's hard not to be impressed by the place.
Kim B a month ago
It's certainly pleasing to the eyes, and I'd love to experience the sound element too!
Kim B 4 weeks ago
From what I can see on Google Maps they are about 30 minutes drive from each other in Niigata City. Should be able to check both off the list the next time I'm there!