The second life of trees: family forestry in upland Japan

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Trees have long been important to human livelihoods in the mountain villages of the Kii Peninsula. In earlier centuries forest trees were the source of food, fuel, green fertilizer and shelter for villagers. Evidence for the symbolic importance of trees in Japan is to be found, in the first instance, in a great deal of Japanese folkloric data, often applying to particular tree stands or tree species. Foresters in Wakayama often liken tree-growing to child-rearing. The raising of the young tree saplings is characterized as parental nurturance. Village children now seldom help out with farming, instead spending all their time on school homework. This man, born during the war, worries that this new pattern of upbringing augurs ill for the future. The analogy between tree-growth and human upbringing recurs in the writings of the Japanese carpenter Nishioka Tsunekazu. For Nishioka, the timber from modern plantations, while it may be uniform, is weaker than that of older growth from natural forests.

Original languageEnglish
Title of host publicationThe social life of trees: anthropological perspectives on tree symbolism
EditorsLaura Rival
ISBN (Electronic)9781003136040
ISBN (Print)9781859739280, 9781859739235
Publication statusPublished - 01 Apr 1998

Publication series

NameMaterializing Culture


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