How the Japanese Cedar Tree Found New Life

How the Japanese Cedar Tree Found New Life

Liezel Strauss
Jan 28, 2011

Earlier this week I attended a Eco+Waza talk in Tokyo on the topic of ' Eco friendly living, past, present and future in Japan' and the presentation by Hida Sangyo, one of Japan's oldest wooden furniture companies really inspired me.

I learned that an unnatural amount of cedar trees were planted in Japan after WWII (they were easy to plant and they grow very quickly). Sadly this had a negative effect on the eco-system and some blame the ceder tree for the increase in allergies in Japan.

Currently, Japan is 67% forest and of that 13% is cedar — however only 20% of lumber comes from Japan as Japanese lifestyles become more westernized and the use of cedar as a building material sharply decreased over the last century.

Cedar has been seen as undesirable because not only is the knotting very prominent, but the wood is also very ductile and is prone to dent and scratch — not tough enough to endure the wear-and-tear of everyday use. However, the popularity of the "Mori no Kotoba" series proved that knots were not a problem, leaving only the hardness issue. It was at this time that Okada, the company's new president coincidentally came across the wood compression technology. While the technology itself was still in the early stages, Okada realized that this could be used within his company to enhance its wood bending techniques.

Now the Japanese cedar tree has found a new life and is being used for furniture again thanks to Hida Sangyo who invested in technologies to shape, bend and sculpt this abundant source into beautiful forms and functional shapes to create beautiful furniture pieces.

For more information see Hida Sangyo

Image: Hida Sangyo

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