A lone tree on a hill in the central Hokkaido town of Biei that served as the area's top tourist attraction has been cut down due to its worsening condition and issues with visitors to the site.
"It's always been here, growing old along with me. I'll miss it," said the 68-year-old owner of the farm where the tree stood.
The tree was cut down last Wednesday morning.
Dubbed the "Philosophy Tree," the poplar, standing about 30 meters tall and with a diameter of 1.8 meters, owed its name to the resemblance to a philosopher lost in thought, with its head tilting to one side.
According to the owner of the farm, it was planted in the mid-1960s and had "grown slowly, absorbing nutrients needed."
Although poplars are believed to be one of the fastest growing trees, their life span is relatively short.
The condition of the tree deteriorated over the years from exposure to blizzards and storms.
The landowner said he became worried that the tree might someday cause damage to produce and crops in the field where it stands or injure visitors.
Another concern was the bad manners of visitors to the area. The landowner had long encouraged tourists to visit the site and enjoy the tree, but visitors would often sneak into nearby farmlands to photograph it, and others would leave cars parked in the middle of the road.
The landowner lamented that all of his efforts to encourage tourists to show better manners, such as installing signs to warn of possible consequences, were in vain.
Last Wednesday, the owner watched a cutting machine rip the tree out of the ground. It took about an hour for the tree to be cut down.