2023 April 6



No material is closer to the heart of the people of Japan than wood, and no material is more important to us. Roughly 70% of Japan is covered in forests. These trees--blessed with four distinct seasons--benefit from abundant rain, heavy snow, and sunlight shining down on the mountains and valleys of our land.

Wood has been a pillar of our lives since long ago. We used wood to build our homes, to carry our loads, and to make our tableware. It has always been at the center of our architecture and crafting culture. This is why the oldest wooden structures in the world stand in Japan.

Another part of our culture centered on this reverence toward trees can be found in the Yorishiro. In ancient times, when animism was practiced in Japan, sacred trees were used to welcome a myriad of deities that would visit the land. It is even said one of the greatest deities in ancient Japanese beliefs, Takamimusubi would use trees as stairs to descend from the sky.

Due to these beliefs, wood was seen as a precious and sacred material since ancient times, and therefore meticulous care and crafting techniques were used to work wood into religious objects of worship. These ancient beliefs are the reason behind the superb skill shown by Japanese woodworkers.

To be continued.

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