Maniwa: Living from the Forest

Journeys in Japan

28m 00s
Broadcast on June 7, 2022 Available until March 31, 2024

Around 70% of Japan's landmass is covered by forest, and this has given rise to the country's distinctive wood-based culture. Nowhere is this more visible than around Maniwa, in northern Okayama Prefecture. For centuries, this area has been one of Japan's leading producers of timber, with extensive plantations devoted to sugi (cedar) and hinoki (cypress) trees covering the surrounding mountains.

Wood merchants from all over the country gather in the historic Katsuyama district in the center of Maniwa, to attend the timber market held three times a month. In the old days, the logs used to be transported by boat down the Asahi River, and the former loading wharf can still be seen. The traditional townscape in Katsuyama has changed little over the past two centuries, and many shops line the scenic streets, each with its own traditional noren shop curtain dyed from hinoki bark.
The town has also come up with creative new ways for using its timber. Wood chips generate electricity in a biomass power plant. And cross laminated timber (CLT) panels have been developed as an all-natural building material for contemporary architecture. In this episode of Journeys in Japan, Michael Keida visits Maniwa to explore the history and the future of Japan's wood culture.

Program Outline