Not many have heard about Daisugi, which is similar to bonsai but has very different results.
Japan continues to amaze people across the world by employing intriguing techniques as they strive for perfection. One such technique that most of us are familiar with is the concept of Bonsai. The art form, which has been around for over a thousand years, was derived from an ancient Chinese horticultural practice, part of which was then redeveloped under the influence of Japanese Zen Buddhism. But not many have heard about Daisugi, which is similar to bonsai but has very different results. While the "ultimate goal of growing a Bonsai is to create a miniaturized but realistic representation of nature in the form of a tree," Daisugi "produces special straight lumber, any other techniques cannot give."
The technique originated in the 14th century when samurais still existed. "In fact, the technique was discovered for the sake of those samurais," reveals Earthbuddies. But it wasn't until recently that the technique caught the eye of social media users after user Wrath of Gnon uploaded a series of pictures explaining how unique and sustainable the technique really is. Sustainable forestry: lumber without cutting down trees. Daisugi is a Japanese forestry technique where specially planted cedar trees are pruned heavily (think of it as giant bonsai) to produce "shoots" that become perfectly uniform, straight and completely knot free lumber, wrote the user on the post.
Describing the time-taking process, the Twitter user posted:
The shoots are carefully and gently pruned by hand every two years leaving only the top boughs, allowing them to grow straight. Harvesting takes 20 years and old "tree stock" can grow up to a hundred shoots at a time. The technique originated in the 14th century. pic.twitter.com/ZIMXYclAmw— Wrath Of Gnon (@wrathofgnon) April 15, 2020
Explaining why this technique was adopted, they revealed: In the 14th c. a form of very straight and stylized sukiya-zukuri architecture was high fashion, but there simply weren't nearly enough raw materials to build these homes for every noble or samurai who wanted one. Hence this clever solution of using bonsai techniques on trees. The best part about it was that it wasn't just for show as the "lumber produced in this method is 140% as flexible as standard cedar and 200% as dense/strong." It was absolutely perfect for "rafters and roof timber where aesthetics called for slender yet typhoon resistant perfectly straight lumber."
But it wasn't all for show: the lumber produced in this method is 140% as flexible as standard cedar and 200% as dense/strong, in other words it was absolutely perfect for rafters and roof timber where aesthetics called for slender yet typhoon resistant perfectly straight lumber. pic.twitter.com/7lKhBHbdvn— Wrath Of Gnon (@wrathofgnon) April 15, 2020
Eventually, the demand for the lumbar diminished as the daisugi looked quite peculiar but ornamental gardens continued to utilize it. Here and there in the forests around Kyoto you will find abandoned giant daisugi (they only produce lumber for 200-300 years before being worn out), still alive, some with trunk diameters of over 15 meters. Out of this world beautiful, they continued. Providing a bonus piece of information, they wrote: Bonus: why do Japanese arborists (niwashi) and gardeners wear only natural blue-dyed cotton? The dye in the cloth comes from a plant that is naturally insect repellant, keeping insects away without chemicals.
The daisugi looks very peculiar, so even when demand for the lumber dropped off in the 16th century demand for them in ornamental gardens kept the forest wardens busy. pic.twitter.com/YxDreHP0mc— Wrath Of Gnon (@wrathofgnon) April 15, 2020
The Twitterverse was in complete awe of the legendary technique, with many posing some interesting questions like: How does the existing tree support that extra weight especially in windy conditions? Responding to this @wrathofgnon wrote: The "stock" (or platform, hence the name 台) is very strong. It can easily handle even dozens of the shoots even at mature sizes. Another Muriel Schwench wanted to know: How much does lumber from this method cost today? Apparently, "2,9m, 50mm diameters, costs under $100," per the user. @wrathofgnon then went on to explain how Pollarding, a common technique used in the west, was completely different from Daisugi. Pollarding is done all over the world but it is completely different in method, purpose, materials, results etc. Pollarding is a way to supplement animal feed. Daisugi is a method to get timber materials that do not occur in nature, they wrote.