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Wood Materials in Japan

Japan is well known for its large forested area, about two thirds of the national land area.

Japan has a rich heritage of wood use. Since early times, back to the Jomon era, most temples, houses, handcrafts and industrial arts have been based on wood.

Wood is obtained from two sources: native forest and plantations.

Of the total forested area in Japan, approximately 50% is occupied by natural forest and 40% by managed plantations. A further 10% is under bamboo forest. Coniferous trees, including Japanese Cedar and Cypress, are grown in managed plantations. Old growth native wood is rarely available nowadays due to government regulations imposed on felling.

It takes 60 - 80 years for conifers, Cedar and Cypress, to reach maturity, 150 - 200 years for broadleaf trees.

In the 1950s during the time of national reconstruction after World War II, the establishment of coniferous plantations became popular. This was due to the economic value of the timber, and also to the fact that it is more easily processed than broadleaf wood.

However, the import of good quality cheaper wood, decreased demand for Japanese coniferous wood.

This led to the abandonment of much plantation land as it became uneconomic to manage.

Planted forest needs appropriate management to ensure high yields of good quality wood.

And more importantly, Japnese wood production was not able to compete with good quality timber that could be iimported at a lower cost.

The increased number of Japanese wood abandoned were also a trigger to increase the number of people suffering from hay fever affected by the pollen in the forest.

It was realised that Japanese wood should be utilised as far as possible, and this could also lead to employment opportunities in forest management, and improved profitability for the forest industry.

Forest land, like other property, is one of Japan's valuable natural resources

From an environmental point of view, we wish to promote the use of Japanese timber, Cedar and Cypress, in order to contribute to CO2 reduction.
Built in the 7th century, the Horyuji temple is one of the oldest in Japan, with its original Japanese Cypress timber still in good condition.

Characteristics of Wood

It is said that wood, more than other materials, “breathes” and “grows” in response to its surroundings. In particular, unpainted wood responds to humidity by expanding. And the soft sweet smell of natural wood gives long lasting pleasure.

The colour of natural wood is also appealing to the eye. Since we are surrounded by harsh concrete walls and buildings, we can appreciate the colour, texture, smell and atmosphere that natural wood imparts.

Natural wood has the ability to restore itself as you can see from the picture. Its ”breathing,” is both an advantage and disadvantage. Articles made from wood respond subtly to a number of outside factors, for example, the dry climate of the Pacific side of Japan, the rainy and snowy Japan Sea side, the season and location, and whether it is indoors or outside.
If unpainted wood is scratched with a nail...it resumes its original state after being soaked in water for a couple of minutes.Unless it is deeply gouged or scraped, wood usually regains its original condition.

Experienced Craftsmen Sort and Select Wood

Although a craftsman carefully selects dry wood for use, natural materials sometimes warp later when used outdoors.⁑

The possibility that warping may occur, should be understood prior to puchase. If serious warping occurs, we are prepared to exchange the products.

Most products on the market nowadays are made of composite board, i.e. fabricated board such as ply MDF and LVL, with printed vinyl chloride and paper on the surface to give the appearance of real wood.

These fabricated wood products are used for doors and frames. Through advanced printing technology, surface irregularities can produce the effect of natural wood at first glance (see picture below).

You might like to take a careful look at the doors of your house!
Printed fabricated board has none of the features of real wood, though it does have durability, making it suitable for lower cost mass production. Higher quality fabricated board has a wood veneer.

We differentiate between low quality fabricated board and the natural wood that is normally used for our products.
printed paper can look like natural wood
Fabricated board with printed paper can look like natural wood, It is fabricated board with printed paper to give the appearance of real wood.

Processing Method

職人 木 加工 組子 タニハタ
We make all our products, Ramma (transoms), room dividers and fittings, from coniferous wood. Kumiko products are made of beautiful conifer wood planed to a fine finish.

Given that warping is the main disadvantage of natural coniferous wood, selection of the right wood for the product is of the utmost importance. It is not easy to select wood that will not warp.

The grain and weight of the wood is checked, and consideration given to its temperature, as warping tends to occur more commonly in wood that has a low temperature.

Although most wood varieties have shortcomings, a skilled craftsman can make the most of his material through understanding its characteristics and the applications for which it is suited. The process of wood working includes not only the creation of the product, but also selection of the appropriate wood for the task. Big manufacturing companies use low-cost wood and fabricated materials in order to increase operational efficiency and reduce customer complaints regarding warping.

If it is thought that wooden products are merely consumable goods, fabricated wood items may be acceptable.

But we are committed to creating useful, beautiful and long lasting products, ensuring that the customer receives value for money.

After the wood has been sawn to size, it is planed smooth, as shown in the picture. This is not the case in low-cost production, where only wood with a particularly rough surface is planed. Sandpaper is sometimes used for the surface finish.Ramma (transoms) is normally planed.
Knowledge of Japanese Cedar, and Cypress
Measurement of Radiation Dosage Level and Formaldehyde Contamination Level

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