Forest work in all seasons


Forest work in all seasons

***** Location: Japan
***** Season: Winter, others see below
***** Category: Humanity


Winter is a time to tend to the forests, when the trees have less sap and can be cut.
Making charcoal was also mostly done in winter during the agricultural off-season (nookanki 農閑期).


Kigo for early winter

botan takibi 牡丹焚火 (ぼたんたきび / 焚き火) bonfire from peony branches
botan taku 牡丹焚く(ぼたんたく)burning peony branches
botan kuyoo 牡丹供養(ぼたんくよう) memorial service for peonies

CLICK for original LINK, hiros239.exblog.jp
. . . CLICK here for Photos !
In some parts of Northen Japan, especially in Sugakawa 須賀川, the branches of old peony plants are cut off and burned at night at a temple or peony park. The flames have a violet and greenish color in the cold winter night.

CLICK for more photos
shuro hagu 棕櫚剥ぐ (しゅろはぐ) stripping a hemp-palm
... shuro muku 棕櫚むく(しゅろむく)peeling off a hemp-palm
Trachycarpus fortunei. Hanfpalme
The fibers of the bark were used to make tough cloth or hemp-palm brooms.
This tree grows to a hight of about 5 meters in the forest of the warmer parts of Japan. When the bark is peeled off, it will grow back soon.

ーーーー kigo for early summer

shuro no hana 棕櫚の花 (しゅろのはな)
blossoms of the hemp-palm
..... hana shuro 花棕櫚(はなしゅろ)
..... shuro no hana 椶櫚の花(しゅろのはな)


Kigo for mid-winter

kuruma shimau 車蔵う (くるましまう) packing the cart away
... kuruma sutsu 車棄つ(くるますつ)
In former times, the wooden carriages and carts could not be used in the snowy areas of Japan. They were taken apart, the wheels put up high on the wall, the side panels sometimes used to enforce the northern wall of the home. Or the carts and carriages were just put into a special barn.


preparations for the end of the year
. ono jimai 斧仕舞 (おのじまい ) packing away the axes  

toshikikori, toshiki kori, toshi kikori 年木樵 (としきこり)
cutting firewood for the new year
toshiki tsumu 年木積む(としきつむ)collecting firewood for the new year
toshiki uri 年木売(としきうり)vendor of firewood for the new year

firewood kigo for the New Year

toshigi としぎ【年木/歳木】 "firewood for the New Year"
..... wakagi 若木(わかぎ)"young firewood"
..... sechigi 節木(せちぎ)firewood for the changing season
..... iwaigi 祝木(いわいぎ)firewood for the celebration
..... hogi 穂木(ほぎ)
..... tawaragi 俵木(たわらぎ)

oniuchigi, oni uchigi 鬼打木 (おにうちぎ)
firewood to ward off the demons
It was used during the first 15 days of the New Year.
onigi 鬼木(おにぎ) "demon's firewood"
oniyokegi 鬼除木(おによけぎ)
firewood to keep the demons away
..... onisaegi, oni saegi 鬼障木(おにさえぎ)
onioshigi 鬼押木(おにおしぎ)
oniuchiboo, oni uchiboo 鬼打棒(おにうちぼう)

juunigaki 十二書き(じゅうにがき)"writing 12"
a piece of cut firewood with the letters "二月”used as a decoration and burend on January 15.
..... nyuugi (にゅうぎ, 新木) "new wood"
oogatama no ki 大賀玉の木(おおがたまのき)

kadonyuudoo, kado nyuudoo 門入道(かどにゅうどう)
"tonsured goblin the gate"

Two simple dolls, male and female, with simple eyes, nose and mouth painted in ink. They are put up at the entrance to the home to ward off evil. This is a custom of the Tohoku region.

. Nyuudoo 入道 priests and goblins .



Kigo for late winter

maruta hiki 丸太曳 (まるたひき) transporting logs (timber)
... maruta dashi 丸太出(まるただし)
... yabudashi 藪出(やぶだし)
In times without maschinery, that was hard labor. One or two large stems were bound together and transported out of the forest by horses or cows on special paths for that purpose.


Kigo for all winter

edauchi, eda-uchi 枝打 (えだうち) cutting off branches
kareki oroshi 枯木卸し(かれきおろし)cutting off dried wood
(see below)

fuyusoma, fuyu soma 冬杣 (ふゆそま)forest worker, woodcutter
Some work in the forest during the daytime (higaeri soma) and to home in the evening, others wander around and stay in a small hut for a few days (nagare soma) and then move on to the next job.
Waldarbeiter, Holzäfller (somabito そまびと)


. sumi 炭 (すみ) charcoal  
binchootan 備長炭 special charcoal from Wakayama
a kigo list about charcoal types

sumigama 炭竈 (すみがま) kiln for charcoal
... sumiyakigama 炭焼竈(すみやきがま)

sumiyaki 炭焼 (すみやき)making charcoal
hut used for making charcoal 炭焼小屋(すみやきごや)
. . . CLICK here for Photos !

sumiyakifu 炭焼夫(すみやきふ)worker making charcoal
... yakigo 焼子(やきご)
... sumioi me 炭負女(すみおいめ)woman carrying charcoal
sumiuma, sumi-uma 炭馬(すみうま)horse carrying charcoal
sumiguruma 炭車(すみぐるま)cart transporting charcoal
sumizori 炭橇(すみぞり)sled transporting charcoal

Making charcoal was not a specialized work, but most farmers did it in the back woods of their home to use as heating. It was also done during other seasons, when they could sell their charcoal well. It takes about a week to cut the necessary wood and fire it in a special kiln.

. sumigama 炭竈 と伝説 Legends about charcoal kilns .


In the Edo period, forests were important for the flood control and to prevent soil erosion. Many mountains were declared "closed mountains" of a domaine to protect the trees. Tree felling by private people was not allowed and regulated by the domaine officials for forestry.
Modern Japan
The nation's forest resources, although abundant, have not been well developed to sustain a large lumber industry. Of the 245,000 km² of forests, 198.000 km² are classified as active forests. Most often forestry is a part-time activity for farmers or small companies. About a third of all forests are owned by the government.
Production is highest in Hokkaido and in Aomori, Iwate, Akita, Fukushima, Gifu, Miyazaki, and Kagoshima prefectures. Nearly 33.5 million cubic meters of roundwood were produced in 1986, of which 98 % was destined for industrial uses.
The Japanese forest industry has been defeated by cheap wood shipped from abroad.
© More in the WIKIPEDIA !


edauchi, eda-uchi 枝打 (えだうち)
cutting off branches

This care for the forest trees is especially important for a kind of cedar, the Daisugi of Kitayama, in Northern Kyoto 北山台杉.
Kitayama cedars (Cryptomeria japonica). "Migaki Maruta"
The forest is owned by the same family for many generations, especially in Nakagawa village.
To cut the branches, each forest worker has his own sickle and a whetstone (toishi 砥石(といし), which he finds in the river up the forest and keeps as a precious personal tool. There is a saying in the area:
"Never lend these two things:
your wife and your whetstone!"

The tree is usually cut when it has about 20 year rings, which are very narrow to show the strength of the material when used for building.

CLICK for more photos

When a cedar becomes 5 to 6 year-old, we cut most branches, just leaving some branches on the top protion of the tree, designated "Hosaki"and the bottom protion, which is designated "Tori-ki" and will serve as a basis for young newly growing branches, in the future. The main trunk is now called "Tachi-ki".

After this process, we cut branches of newly growing branches on the "Tori-ki" in addition to the main trunk, "Tachi-ki" every other year until the main trunk grows big enough as building materials. Once we cut the main trunk "Tachi-ki", we select some of the best newly growing branches on "Toriki" for future "Tachi-ki" and cut other branches. Among many young branches, ones growing straight to the sky are considered to be the best.

Fore more than 600 years, we have been repeating these processes in order to produce as many logs as possible, and there are some "Daisugi" threes which are more than several hundred years old.
We has been growing "Daisugi" cedars to collect logs for more than 600 years. Collected logs had been used to build "Sukiya"-styled tea houses. However, the large demand of logs due to the wide spread of the modern "Sukiya"-style after the World War II exceeded our supply. In addition, some of young logs from "Daisugi" cedars are called "Taru-ki", and they are no longer used to build houses due to a change in the law. Because of these events, the way we produce cedar log changed dramatically and demand of "Daisugi" decreased. .

However, the excellent figure of "Daisugi" is now loved by many peope and "Daisugi" cedars are used in Japanse gardens as well as golf yards.
source : http://www12.ocn.ne.jp/~ydaisuke/page035.html

Since the tradition has been revived, there are now also some young forest workers who learn the tradition from their peers. Whith small ladders they climb the trees and whack away the branches. It must be done in a way as not to make too large a wound on the tree, in one sharp cut, so that the ast hole will become a beautiful pattern for the log as the tree keeps growing and ageing.

The Daisugi trees are also used for bonsai nowadays.
. . . CLICK here for Photos !

CLICK for more photos
eda-uchi no dentoo arite ima mo nao

keeping the tradition
of cutting cedar branches ...
even now

Gabi Greve, November 2009


sugikodachi asahi o abite musu gotoku

lanes of cedar trees
shine with the sun rise
and grow in mist

Terry Ishii
Seattle WA USA , November 2009


Forest kigo, category PLANTS

kigo for all spring

shunrin 春林 (しゅんりん) forest in spring
..... haru no mori 春の森(はるのもり)
haru no ki 春の樹(はるのき)tree in spring

sugikafun 杉花粉 pollen from cedars
matsukafun  松花粉 pollen from pines

sugi kafun / matsu kafun

Worldwide use

Things found on the way

yamagatsu 山賤(やまがつ) / 山賎 woodcutters
kikori きこり【樵/木樵】 people who cut and transport wood out of the forest
somabito 杣人 (そまびと), yamashizu やましず / 山賤(やましづ)
They were usually poor folk who spent the winter months in the forest, making a small living cutting wood for the owners of the forest.
karyuudo かりゅうど【狩人/猟人】 hunter, huntsman are something different and have a different purpose for going into a forest.

山賤(やまがつ) のおとがひ閉る葎かな
yamagatsu no otogai tozuru mugura kana

the poor loggers
have to keep their mouths shut
(because of) so many cleaver weeds

Tr. Gabi Greve

Written in 貞亨2年, Basho age 43.
Basho was on his way in Nozarashi Kiko and stayed at Yamura in Koshu 甲州谷村 (Yamanashi).
The cut marker KANA is at the end of line 3.

. Matsuo Basho 松尾芭蕉 - Archives of the WKD .

Discussion of various translations
. mugura 葎 (むぐら) cleavers  

Larry Bole coments:
'Yamagatsu' have been written about as far back as the era of Heian Court poetry. One can find various translations of the word on the internet, such as "woodsman," "mountaineer," even "hillbilly."

Heian Court poets apparently wrote about 'yamagatsu' from the standpont of peasant exoticness , or from finding unexpected beauty among them.

An example, cited in Awesome Nightfall: The Life, Times, and Poetry of Saigyo, by William R. LaFleur:

ana koishi ima mo miteshi ga yamagatsu no
kakiho ni sakeru yamato nadeshio

oh sweet yearning if
only I could meet here once
more...the delicate
Japanese carnation that bloomed
on the mountain peasant's fence

trans. Laurel Rasplica Rodd

LaFleur says:
Kubota remarks that in such poems, typical of the court, the speaker places himself physically close to the fence or home of the 'yamagatsu' peasant but, entirely caught up in his own affairs, pays absolutely no attention to the life of actual peasants.
By contrast, Saigyo writes of the 'yamagatsu' in the following way:

yamagatsu no suminu to miyuru watari kana
fuyu ni aseyuku shizuhara no sato

What I see when I
look around at the dwellings
of poor mountain people:
colors get fainter in so quiet
a village in mid-winter.

"Even when physically at a distance from them, Saigyo notices the people and their livelihood," writes Kubota.

So, what was so remarkable about this "woodcutter" that caught Basho's attention? Were they notorious chatterboxes, so that Basho noted that the tall grass shut one up, from not wanting to get grass in his mouth as he talked and talked?

Read the full discussion here:
by Larry Bole, Haiku Translation Forum

Are these just woodcutters who are cutting and gathering firewood to use for their own fires and to sell to others as firewood? Or are these loggers or lumberjacks, who are cutting down big trees to provide lumber for various kinds of construction?

If these are more like loggers/lumberjacks, then woodcutter in English would be misleading. And if they are more like loggers/lumberjacks, how did they get the tree trunks out of the forests? Like they used to do here, with teams of horses or mules, and chains?
. . . MORE .. questions from Larry Bole

seem to have been professionals, so "logger" might be a better translation.

Firewood for the farmers was cut from the "satoyama" behind the village. It was used for cooking and keeping the open hearth fire in the kitchen of a farmhouse.

. Satoyama 里山 (さとやま) forests and mountains  


. Edo craftsmen 江戸の職人 .

tsukegi  付木startwood for fire, "match"

made from scraps of cedar wood with sulphur painted on one side.
The sulfur part was held close to a hearth fire and when it caught fire, the scrap could then be used to light another fire or candle in a lamp.
The craftsmen who made these pieces were called
tsukegi shi 付木師 Tsukegi makers
tsukegi 付木突き tsukegi cutters.

from 『今様職人尽百人一首』

By the end of the Edo period there were more than 500 in Edo.
They used special tools, one of them the shoojiki 正直 Shojiki blade and a shoojikidai 正直台 stand to use the Shojiki. The scraps would fall on the ground.

tsukegiya 付木屋 dealer of Tsukegi

source : 20century.blog2.fc2.com

Kitchen fire in Edo was usually started by the housewife with a flintstone and tinder and needed some skill.
. hiuchi, hi-uchi 火打ち striking a fire .

nyoobo ga rusu de tsukegi o tsukaisugi

when the wife is not home
he uses
too many matches

Senryu in Edo

tsukegi uri 付木売り selling wood scraps to light a fire

. Doing Business in Edo .


Charcoal Setting (sumi temae 炭点前)
for the tea ceremony


The woodcutter
works in all seasons.
Splitting wood is both
Action and inaction.

Tao Te Ching, Verse 64


source : ajian - msaka

akikaze ya shushi ni shi utau gyosha shosha

this autumn wind -
in the sake shop reciting poetry
fishermen and woodcutters

Tr. Gabi Greve

. WKD : Yosa Buson 与謝蕪村 in Edo .


botan takibi sanga wa yami ni osamareri

peony bonfire -
the mountain landscape settles
in the darkness

Kohiyama Shigeko 小檜山繁子
MORE haiku with botan takibi

sanga refers to the mountains and rivers of one's natural sourroundings of ones native place.


ikadashi ga meshi ni kaketaru hotaru kana

the master raftsman
sprinkles them on his rice --

Kobayashi Issa 一茶


toshiki kori mutoo jitensha nite kaeru

transporting firewood
I drive home on a bicycle
without a light

Tsuji Momoko 辻桃子

MORE haiku with toshikikori


Winding road at dusk
the logger slows down
for a deer

Darrell Lindsey (USA)
Basho's 360th Anniversary Web Haiku Contest 2004
source : www.mietimes.jp

Related words

In spring, trees are grafted or planted.
Cut timber and logs used to be transported out of the forest with rafts.

kigo for mid-spring

naegi 苗木市 (なえぎいち) market for tree saplings
naegi uri 苗木売(なえぎうり)vendor of tree saplings

sashiki 挿木 (さしき/ 挿し木) plant a cutting
sashiho 挿穂(さしほ)
sashime 挿芽(さしめ)
sashiba 挿葉(さしば)
sashidoko 挿床(さしどこ)

sentei 剪定 (せんてい) pruning
sentei ki 剪定期(せんていき)time for pruning
senshi 剪枝(せんし)pruning branches

tsugiki, tsugi-ki 接木 (つぎき / 接ぎ木) grafting
..... tsugiho 接穂(つぎほ)
daigi 砧木(だいぎ)stock, rootstock
tsugiki nae 接木苗(つぎきなえ)scion
metsugi 芽接(めつぎ)grafting buds
kiritsugi 切接(きりつぎ)
netsugi 根接(ねつぎ)grafting roots
Grafting in the WIKIPEDIA !


hatsu ikada 初筏 (はついかだ) first raft
ikada matsuri 筏祭(いかだまつり)raft festival
shobatsushiki 初筏式(しょばつしき) first raft ceremony
. . . CLICK here for Photos !

kinagashi 木流し (きながし )
transporting timber on the river

..... kuda nagashi 管流し(くだながし)floating one log at a time
seki nagashi 堰流し(せきながし)floating a dam (made by logs)
teppoozeki 鉄砲堰(てっぽうぜき)
shura otoshi 修羅落し(しゅらおとし)
aba 網場(あば) place for floating logs

CLICK for more photos ... wood.co.jp
First many logs of timber are collected at one special part in the river, then all are floated when the water is high enough.
. . . CLICK here for Photos !

sweet mirin to keep the rafters warm

in Kawabe 岐阜県加茂郡川辺町


kigo for late spring

naegi uu 苗木植う (なえぎうう) planting tree saplings
shokurin 植林(しょくりん)afforestation, planting trees
suginae, sugi-nae 杉苗(すぎなえ)pine saplings


. Forest work in the NEW YEAR


five thirty -
the woodcutters chainsaw
sounds deep in the forest

. Gabi Greve, July 9, 2010 - the full story .

***** Ash, ashes (hai) and related kigo
and sumi-temae carcoal layout of the tea ceremony

***** . Bonsai 盆栽 potted trees .

***** Winter (fuyu, Japan) the season

Mori no Megumi 森の恵み Food from the Bountiful Woods

and Satoyama Saijiki 里山歳時記





anonymous said...

Edo ... The Sun and the Forests
The population of Edo City in the Edo Period exceeded one million in the early 1700s, and became one of the world's biggest cities of the time in terms of population and area. Unlike today's Tokyo, Edo was a city of forest. Half of the city was forest or wooded land, since tree-covered gardens occupied half or more of the estates of samurais, temples and shrines. Edo was once called "City of Mosaic Garden," which depicts the image that the people of Edo had lived in spaces among man-made forests.

Another indispensable function of forests was to supply firewood and charcoal. When old inert trees gradually become unable to absorb carbon dioxide (CO2) properly, they are cut down and used as firewood and charcoal for fuel. Both cutting down and planting trees helps young trees to grow vigorously again absorbing CO2. Renovating man-made forests by logging is not the destruction of nature, but necessary forest management.

The forests in Japan from the Age of Provincial Wars to the early Edo Period were not in good condition, since the cultivation of new paddies were promoted and people cut up their neighboring natural forests for clearing.

In the late 1600's, the shogunate realized the danger of further forest clearing and issued a regulation called "Yamakawa Okite" to stop the deforestation. Furthermore, the feudal domains started investing labor and capital in the existing paddies and fields, and began planting trees on the mountains. This was the beginning of "the Era of Man-Made Forests".

In the Edo Period Japan, next to the big cities were always the regions of thriving forest industry. The more big cities developed, the more fuel they needed, which boosted forestry in the neighboring areas. Even the fields of pampas grass were made into man-made forests to satisfy the increasing demand for fuelwood.

The importance of mountain trees was taught at temple schools in the Edo Period. When children started reading elementary Chinese classics, they first learned the phrases on the importance of forests: "A mountain without trees is of little worth however high it is, so is a big man without wisdom." Thus they were taught that trees to a mountain are no less valuable than wisdom to men.

People in the Edo Period were far more aware of the importance of forests than us, or their descendants who have become ignorant of the natural environment. Our ancestors were well aware that they could neither drink water, grow rice and other crops, nor obtain fuel without forests.

(C) Japan for Sustainability 2008

Anonymous said...

What an interesting winter tradition,
"botan taku" - burning peony branches.
George O Hawkins

Anonymous said...

John Tiong Chunghoo on Facebook
forest haiku ;;;;

after the echo of grinding
two hundred years in wood
come crashing down

Unknown said...




Gabi Greve said...


anonymous aha said...

Traditions are essential, Gabi.
Interesting information, Gabi san,
and a fine haiku.

anonymous said...


yamagatsu no
chigiri no hodo ya
yoru o nomi matsu
yūgao no hana

Is it with the mountain man
Her time is pledged
So secretly?
For the night alone, awaiting,
The moonflower bloom.


Roppyaku-ban Uta Awase Poems 66
Tr. Thomas McAuley


facebook friends said...

peony branches
suddenly snow
Jimmy ThePeach

Gabi Greve - Buson said...

Yosa Buson

kakigoshi ni mono uchikataru tsugiki kana

over the hedge
they exchange stories
while grafting trees . . .

about hedges

Gabi Greve - Issa said...

Kobayashi Issa

uguisu no naku to bakari ni tsugiho kana

just hearing a nightingale
is enough...
grafting a branch

(tr. David Lanoue)

Gabi Greve - Darumapedia said...

shuro -
tawashi たわし / 束子 scrubbing brush, Scheuerbürste, Handschrubber
shuro hooki 棕櫚 ほうき broom made from shuro hemp palm

Gabi Greve said...

Kobayashi Issa - sumigama

sumigama ya are ga sakura no yuu keburi

charcoal kiln--
the cherry tree becoming
evening smoke
Charcoal is being made in a kiln. The wood used is that of a cherry tree. The resulting poem is a succinct and poignant expression of Buddhist impermanence.
David Lanoue

Gabi Greve said...

furusoma, furu-soma 古杣 a kind of Yokai in the mountains
maybe a Tengu.

Gabi Greve said...

kobiki 木挽 cutting timber for construction
Kobikichoo 木挽町 Kobiki cho district
Located to the Eastern side of Sanjugenborikawa (Sanjukken Canal) , from sub-district 1 to 7.
In the beginning of the Edo period, many construction workers using large timber saws 木挽 lived and worked here.
- 葛飾北斎 Katsushika Hokusai - 木挽 Kobiki cutting wood
- kobiki uta 木挽唄 song of the timber cutters
They are still popular to our day.
matsutake ya Kiso ni Kiso uma kobiki uta

pine mushrooms -
in Kiso there are Kiso horses
and songs of the timber cutters

鈴木石夫 Suzuki Ishio

The Kiso region was famous for its forests and wood workers.

Gabi Greve said...

Kobayashi Issa

ikadashi no unji hatetaru hotaru kana

the raftsman
has had his fill...

A humorous psychological poem.
Even a beautiful sight, if seen often enough, can grow old. Note the musical fun that Issa has with the phrase, hatetaru hotaru.

David Lanoue

Gabi Greve said...

akikaze - Yosa Buson
Here is a discussion of this haiku by Yagi Kametaro (1908-1986), in the book "Haiku ~ Messages from Matsuyama" (edited by Oliver Statler, Katydid Books, Dist. by U. of Hawaii Press, 1991):
[from the essay, "Proper Names in Japanese Haiku"]

"In another haiku, Shiki arranged four proper names to give vigor and nuance:

Aki-kaze ya
Takai no teiregi
Mitsu no tai.

The autumn wind
the 'teiregi' of Takai
the 'tai' of Mitsu.

" 'Aki-kaze', 'the autumn wind', is the season word. 'Ya' is, as usual, a grammatical compliment that emphasizes the poetic sentiment and tempers the semantic structure.
'Teiregi' is is a little plant that grows naturally only in a stream that flows by Sairin-ji, the forty-eighth temple of the pilgrimage, in the village of Takai, now part of Matsuyama; its tiny leaves add a prized pungency to the soy sauce that accompanies 'sashimi', fish eaten raw.
'Tai' is a sea bream that the Japanese consider the best of all fishes, invariably served at banquets to celebrate happy occasions. Mitsu is the port of Matsuyama, site of a large fish market.

"Though it falls flat in translation, to a native of the area Shiki's haiku is loving praise of local dishes, achieved by a simple juxtaposition of proper names, intimate and lovely to the ear. It is fitting that it is engraved on a stone that stands in front of Sairin-ji. "
[on the facing page is a photograph of the stone]

[Kametaro continues in a later part of the essay]

"The nature of haiku, with its limitations in time and place, naturally invites the haikuist to use local names. Unlike Western poets, haikuists have never presumed that their efforts would reach a nationwide audience. All through its history, haiku has been a literature of a limited group (called 'renju') who were familiar with the local names of their area and enjoyed using them in their haiku. (October 1974)"
contributed by Larry Bole

Gabi Greve said...

with a stone memorial
秋風や - aki kaze ya
高井のていれぎ - Takai no teiregi
三津の鯉 - Mitsu no koi”


Gabi Greve said...

sakiyama 杣 - サキヤマ forest worker