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  • Fumiko Yoshida

The Unknown Allure of Yoshino: Beyond the Cherry Blossoms, the World of Yoshino Cedar

Updated: Apr 5

Japan, with its stunning seasonal landscapes and unique culture, has always captivated many travelers. However, my recent trip to Yoshino made us appreciate it from a deeper and fresh perspective. I myself, Fumiko (COO of Tricolage) embarked on this voyage of discovery to get to know the region better.


Yoshino town is located in Nara Prefecture. Just an hour's train ride from the heart of Nara, and an hour and a half from Osaka or Kyoto, this place offers a serene escape where time seems to slow down.



When one thinks of Yoshino, the immediate imagery is often the breathtaking cherry blossoms in full bloom during spring or the revered Mount Kinpu. During this season, numerous tourists flock to Yoshino to witness its beauty. But even after the cherry blossoms have fallen, the allure of Yoshino doesn't fade. The reason lies in the "Yoshino Cedar."


From the moment you set foot in Yoshino, the fragrances of cedar and cypress fill the air. These scents felt emblematic of the town itself.




World-Class Timber in Yoshino

Yoshino wood is not only utilized in renowned temples and shrines within Japan but is also garnering attention from architects overseas. Mr. Yamanaka from ICHI Co., Ltd., a company that showcases Yoshino wood globally under the theme of "Japanese Technology and Beauty," graciously offered a special tour of the Yoshino forests.


As he parked the car and pointed out the path, towering beside it were cedar and cypress trees surpassing 30 meters in height. In this tranquil forest, devoid of tourists, these trees stood majestically, reaching straight towards the sky. The sight deeply moved me.



The quality of Yoshino cedar receives high praise globally. Yet, its excellence isn't solely due to the climate or geography. A traditional method called "close planting" — planting trees at high densities and carefully thinning over time, ensuring only the best quality trees remain — is practiced. Astonishingly, while typical cedar growth spans a few decades, in Yoshino, they nurture trees over centuries.


Yuichi Kodai is one of the world-famous architects enchanted by the beauty of Yoshino cedar. Known as the architect of the "Kou-tei" of the Shinshoji Zen Museum and Gardens in Fukuyama, Hiroshima, together with Mr. Yamanaka, he promotes Yoshino wood all over the world.



"Our commitment to the traditions and sustainability of Yoshino wood is our mission," says Mr. Kodai.


Through traditional woodworking, art, and architecture, the sustainable cycle of the mountains is being championed not just in Japan, but worldwide.



Where to Add Value

Just a 5-minute walk from Yoshino Jingu Station, there's a place where Yoshino wood gathers.



My guide for the day was Mr. Yoshikawa, who shared various information about the wood of Yoshino. As he showed me around the lumberyard, he spoke about how Yoshino wood integrates into our daily lives.


"What do you specifically think of when you hear 'lumberyard'?"


I hesitated a bit at Mr. Yoshikawa's question. Seizing the pause, he answered with a smile,


"I believe it's a place where value is added to wood."



From logs to finished products, there are approximately six processes at the lumberyard.


Craftsmen meticulously choose and mill each log, producing items that offer increasing satisfaction the more they're used. They also try to reuse offcuts as much as possible, aiming to minimize waste during the manufacturing process. The goal is to "fully utilize and honor each individual tree," he explained.



Meeting these passionate and dedicated individuals who pour their love into Yoshino wood made me reflect on my daily life. Houses, furniture, and the chopsticks we use daily - wood is indispensable in our everyday life. This journey made me realize that behind our daily routines, there's a rich story overflowing with dedication and craftsmanship.




Community House "Yoshino Cedar House"

After the tour of Yoshino's forests, I checked into this unique accommodation. The Yoshino Cedar House, situated along the Yoshino River, is the perfect place to immerse oneself in the essence of Yoshino timber. Abundantly featuring Yoshino cedar and cypress, this house is a blend of traditional Japanese architecture and modern design. However, its construction isn't its only allure.



In the morning, the sunlight streams into the room, revealing deer tracks on the porch, likely from a nighttime stroll. As I leisurely sipped my coffee on the veranda, gazing at the river, passing locals greeted me. One after another. And then, another local came and offered me breakfast right there on the veranda.



The Yoshino Cedar House was built as a space for interaction between locals and visitors. Here, community members welcome you as hosts. It's not just an accommodation facility but also serves as a community house where one can learn about and engage with the local culture.


Community-based tourism is a pivotal aspect of sustainable tourism. As introduced in our blog about community-based tourism development, tourism can support the sustainability of local communities. It doesn't necessarily have to be a "tourist destination" but a community-driven approach to tourism. And it's with the collaboration of these communities that sustainable towns are shaped.



Transformational Travel

Walking through the forests, touching the timber with my own hands, feeling the scent of wood, and directly interacting with the locals allowed me to immerse, if only slightly, in the Yoshino way of life. Even though my stay was brief, spanning just a night and a day, my perspective on everyday objects seems slightly altered now that I'm back in my daily life.


Travel not only impacts the moment of the journey but also one's subsequent life and overall perspective.



Over the past 2-3 years, when traveling as freely as we wished was not possible, perhaps people have come to re-appreciate the significance of journeys.


Why not take your time to visit Yoshino and experience the true essence of a journey?


We provide meaningful and sustainable travel experiences in Japan. There are still many captivating regions in Japan yet to be explored.


For those who want to experience a memorable journey, please feel free to contact us. On Linkedin, we share lots of information. We'd love for you to follow us!






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