Japan Has Produced Wood for 700 Years With an Ancient Technique That Saves Thousands of Trees

japanese technique daisugi

As we navigate our way deeper into the 21st century, issues of great humanitarian concern have come to the forefront, namely preserving the integrity of our environment for future generations of people and animals alike to enjoy.

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About 3.5 billion to 7 billion trees are currently being felled each year according to a report published by the Rainforest Action Network (RAN).

While strides are being made to grow more each year to help replace the trees that are being lost, there’s no getting around it — deforestation destroys wildlife habitats and alters the environment in countless unhealthy ways, depriving us of places we can go to become wild again ourselves.

Japanese Technique Saves Space, Thousands of Trees

Described as “bonsai on a larger scale,” Japanese forest stewards have utilized a technique called daisugi for generations, which allows them to essentially grow trees for lumber on top of other trees.

“Indeed, the daisugi provide that these trees will be planted for future generations and not be cut down but pruned as if they were giant bonsai trees,” wrote environmental documentary host Sir David Attenborough about the technique.

“By applying this technique to cedars, the wood that can be obtained is uniform, straight and without knots, practically perfect for construction.

“A pruning as a rule of art that allows the tree to grow and germinate while using its wood, without ever cutting it down.”

The technique reportedly began in the 14th century, and allows for improved efficiency in harvesting and producing lumber without changing the original structure of the more knot-like, ancient trees that line the country’s landscapes.

Their striking appearance also makes them a mainstay in traditional ornamental gardens.

Daisugi was originally invented by citizens in the region of Kitayama, Japan, and was used to solve the problem of the area’s seedlings shortage.

Because of the lack of flat land in the area, planting trees on steep slopes became problematic.

Using the daisugi technique, forest stewards and arborists were able to terraform the existing trees to their liking.

This speeds up the harvest cycle in a natural and simple way that also produces denser wood.

User Wrath of Gnon described the process in further detail in a series of posts that has gone viral on Twitter.

The process is typically used on sugi, a Japanese cedar or redwood tree in English.

Following a Facebook post about the technique recently, commenters responded with great curiosity and delight.

“How exciting to see old methods of preserving and improving our beautiful world!” wrote a woman named Marietta.

“It is beautiful and very good for the environment,” wrote another commenter named Ivonne.

“Amazing. We really do need to start looking after our planet better to benefit our children, grandchildren and future generations,” wrote another user named Ann.

While the technique is not used as often in Japan as it was by past generations, massive daisugi trees can still be found lining the countryside.

Meanwhile another commenter stated that there is a technique being used in the UK and the United States that is similar called coppicing, which utilizes the capacity of many (typically smaller) trees to put out new shoots from their stump or roots if cut down.

Coppiced wood is called a copse, and is created during a process in which young tree stems are repeatedly cut down to a near ground level, resulting in a stool.

At the end of the day, each culture and tradition can learn something from the other, which is part of what makes life so enjoyable.

Be sure to share this article with anyone who might find the same type of joy in this unique art form as I did!

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