Oguni: Famous for its lush green Cedar forest, Oguni town is located in Kumamoto prefecture in southern Japan.
For 250 years, the residents of the area have been running a sustainable project to plant Cedar trees and sell its wood, because this Cedarwood being the main source of timber to build homes in Japan. Each cedar tree has a registered number and a documented date of planting.
The story of Oguni Cedar began in the Edo period, when a samurai leader distributed 25 seedlings of cedar trees to every farmer in the area to plant them, so their children and grandchildren would benefit from its wood in the future. Now there are more than one million Cedar trees in Oguni.
“The Cedarwood of Oguni is famous all over Japan, thanks to our unique method of drying timber. Our town is blessed with many hot springs and we use the natural geothermal heat to dry the wood. And this is the only one place in Japan,” said Kazuhiko Yanase Oguni Cedar Tree Association.
Oguni residents live in the bounties of cedar trees.
In order to emphasise their strong relationship with Cedar, the residents use its wood for the construction of buildings, as one can see the extensive use of wood and metal joints here in this municipal complex.
Houses in the town are built using local Cedarwood for their flexibility and strength. The unique and beautiful colouring of the Cedar grain enhances harmony in the design of a Japanese-style room.
“I am living in Oguni and wanted to construct my home by using Oguni Cedar. If I lived somewhere else other than Oguni I imagine I would not have the chance to use this special material. The wood feels very nice to touch by hand and also to walk on it,” a resident in Oguni said.
Every year about 38,000 Cedar trees are cut in Oguni, but 40,000 seedlings are planted too.
This way of preserving trees has become an example of sustainability throughout Japan and the world.