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Daisugi: the ancient Japanese art of growing trees on top of other trees

Daisugi: the ancient Japanese art of growing trees on top of other trees
Source: Twitter/WrathOfGnon

A 600-year-old Japanese forestry technique of creating a tree-platform for other trees to grow upon can help prevent deforestation and results in stronger, more flexible, perfectly round straight timber.

Ancient Forestry Technique Produces Timber Without Cutting Down Trees

You may be familiar with the term “bonsai”, which is a Japanese term, literally translated meaning “planted in a container”. It’s a horticultural technique that creates miniature versions of regular-sized trees for ornamental purposes. There is, however, a similar technique used in Japan that is much less-commonly known around the world. Sometime in 15th century Japan, a horticultural  technique called daisugi was developed in Kyoto. Written as 台杉 and literally meaning platform cedar, the technique resulted in a tree that resembled the upturned palm of a hand with multiple trees growing out if it, perfectly vertically. Daisugi uses many of the same principles as bonsai, however the results are quite different. Instead of tiny ornamental plants, the technique produces timber that is stronger, more flexible, perfectly round and straight, and reduces the need to cut down other trees. Below are some amazing photos shared to Twitter by Wrath of Gnon, and their comments about this fascinating subject; along with other cool images from around the net.

Daisugi is a Japanese forestry technique where specially planted cedar trees are pruned heavily (think of it as giant bonsai) to produce
Sustainable forestry: lumber without cutting down trees. Daisugi is a Japanese forestry technique where specially planted cedar trees are pruned heavily (think of it as giant bonsai) to produce “shoots” that become perfectly uniform, straight and completely knot free lumber. Source: Twitter/WrathOfGnon
The shoots are carefully and gently pruned by hand every two years leaving only the top boughs, allowing them to grow straight. Source: Twitter/WrathOfGnon
Harvesting takes 20 years and old “tree stock” can grow up to a hundred shoots at a time. Source: Twitter/WrathOfGnon
The technique originated in the 1400s. Source: Twitter/WrathOfGnon
Hence this clever solution of using bonsai techniques on trees.
In the 14th c. a form of very straight and stylized sukiya-zukuri architecture was high fashion, but there simply weren’t nearly enough raw materials to build these homes for every noble or samurai who wanted one. Hence this clever solution of using bonsai techniques on trees. Source: Twitter/WrathOfGnon
the lumber produced in this method is 140% as flexible as standard cedar and 200% as dense/strong, in other words it was absolutely perfect for rafters and roof timber where aesthetics called for slender yet typhoon resistant perfectly straight lumber.
But it wasn’t all for show: the lumber produced in this method is 140% as flexible as standard cedar and 200% as dense/strong, in other words it was absolutely perfect for rafters and roof timber where aesthetics called for slender yet typhoon resistant perfectly straight lumber. Source: Twitter/WrathOfGnon
The daisugi looks very peculiar, so even when demand for the lumber dropped off in the 16th century demand for them in ornamental gardens kept the forest wardens busy.
Distinctive appearance: The daisugi looks very peculiar, so even when demand for the lumber dropped off in the 16th century demand for them in ornamental gardens kept the forest wardens busy. Source: Twitter/WrathOfGnon
Source: Pinterest/yudana
That's the view of Kitayama Cedars. Kitayama Cedars are associated with the oldest forest industry in Japan.
After passing a point of Kozanji Temple in Takao the magnificent view of cedar forest like an expansive bamboo growth spreading out in your sight. That’s the view of Kitayama Cedars. Kitayama Cedars are associated with the oldest forest industry in Japan. Source: Association of Nakagawa revitalization project
Polished Logs made from Kitayama Cedars are produced for the purpose of construction of traditional wooden architectures in Japan such as tea rooms and Skiya styled houses.
Desirable timber. Polished Logs made from Kitayama Cedars are produced for the purpose of construction of traditional wooden architectures in Japan such as tea rooms and Skiya styled houses. Source: Association of Nakagawa revitalization project
Here and there in the forests around Kyoto you will find abandoned giant daisugi (they only produce lumber for 200-300 years before being worn out), still alive, some with trunk diameters of over 15 meters.
Out of this world beautiful. Here and there in the forests around Kyoto you will find abandoned giant daisugi (they only produce lumber for 200-300 years before being worn out), still alive, some with trunk diameters of over 15 meters. Source: Twitter/WrathOfGnon
Soren-ji Temple and the 500-years-old Daisugi Cedars A beautiful tour around the gardens and ancient cedars of Soren-ji Temple. This video has no commentary. Source: YouTube/Mystical Places in Japan
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