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Old woman hugging tree…?

On my college campus, at least once a week I see a very old Asian (I think Japanese?) woman hugging a tree. She is just standing there with her arms around the tree. She doesn’t move. Does this have anything to do with Asian customs or Buddhist or Shinto culture?


  1. Not directly. Shinto can be highly individualized so it wouldn’t surprise me to find out that she had a vision of the Kami for that particular tree and created her own ritual to go with the vision. It could also be that a religious specialist created this ritual for her. (In this case a religious specialist is a spiritual leader that isn’t a Shinto priest). However, this is only speculation, you’d have to ask her to find out.

  2. It could be that she feels she has a connection to a particular spirit residing in that tree, as would be compatible with Buddhist or Shinto (or other animist) beliefs. In a lot of Asia, any particularly large or old tree is often thought to have resident spirit/s.
    But it’s more normally to bow to trees or offer them things if that’s the case, rather than hugging them.
    Or she might just love trees. Or nature. She might be going senile or blind. Or she could have another reason, which mightn’t necessarily relate to her Asianness. Why don’t you ask her? If she’s confused and her family let her wander around hugging trees, she might need care.


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