The Japanese forestry method for harvesting wood, daisugi (meaning “cedar table”), goes as far back as the 14th century to solve a seedling shortage in Kyoto. Yes, Daisugi is real, not a hoax. Let’s explore the ancient Japanese technique for growing trees out of trees
The 700-year-old technique involves pruning a tree’s branches like giant bonsai trees. In doing so, the mother tree provides a stable platform that supports the birth of new uniform saplings growing perfectly upward and knotless on top.
Therefore, the ancient method creates fresh timber — more than a dozen trunks — while preserving the original tree itself. The timber itself is even thicker than standard cedar. Its perfect pole-like shape makes it ideal for use as roofing on top of Japanese teahouses.
Why did Japan stop using the Daisugi wood technique?
Daisugi is a sustainable forestry method without cutting down trees. However, the ingenious forestry technique is no longer used as it takes several years of active care and maintenance.
Japan gradually reduced its reliance on daisugi primarily due to technological advancements and changes in construction materials. With the introduction of modern sawing techniques, machinery, and imported timber, the demand for labor-intensive daisugi wood decreased. Additionally, newer construction materials like steel and concrete began to replace wood in many structures, further diminishing the need for daisugi.
Is Daisgu wood real or a hoax?
To reiterate, daisugi wood is real, not a hoax. This ancient Japanese technique produces high-quality Kitayama cedar shoots, known as “taruki,” which are as good as timber from fully grown trees.
How Daisgu works
Daisugi involves precise pruning of Kitayama cedar trees to generate shoots that can be harvested without felling the entire tree. Skilled artisans manage the growth of the trees, ensuring a sustainable and efficient yield.
Where to see Daisgu in Japan
You can see Daisugi most prominently in the Kyoto Prefecture, especially in areas around Kitayama. It’s a living testament to early sustainable forestry and a must-see for eco-conscious travelers.
More about the 14th-century seedling shortage in Kyoto
Rapid urbanization and population growth in 14th-century Kyoto led to an urgent need for high-quality timber. As the capital of Japan, Kyoto needed vast amounts of wood for constructing temples, palaces, and homes. However, the rate of tree felling outpaced the natural replenishment of seedlings. The mountainous geography of the region further limited available arable land for new tree plantings.
To tackle this problem, the Japanese developed the daisugi technique. This sustainable forestry practice involves carefully pruning Kitayama cedar trees to produce high-quality shoots, known as “taruki.” These shoots offer nearly the same quality as whole, naturally-grown trees but can be harvested without cutting down the entire tree. In this way, the daisugi technique provided an innovative solution to Kyoto’s seedling shortage, offering a lesson in resource management that remains relevant today.