Sugi (Cryptomeria japonica) is considered the national tree of Japan, creating an association and utility with the country’s history and culture extending back several thousand years. A hardy tree species that adapts to a wide range of environments, Sugi has been planted all over Japan since ancient times and is by far the top plantation tree species in Japan.
From the late Jomon period to the Yayoi period (4,000 to 2,000 years ago), the distribution of Sugi expanded so rapidly that it is called the “Era of Cedar.” When investigating ruins from those eras, Sugi was discovered as buried forest and wood fragments, and so it is known that it has been used since the early Jomon period.
The scientific name of Sugi “Cryptomeria japonica” can be interpreted as “japonica” being Latin for “Japan”, and “Cryptomeria” meaning “hidden wealth”. In other words, Sugi is deemed to be a “hidden property of Japan”, and it can be said that Japanese cedar is a tree unique to Japan with high utility value to the point of being a property.
Approximately 70% of Japan’s land is covered in forests, and about 40% of those forests are planted trees, mainly Sugi and Hinoki (Japanese Cypress). After World War II, Japan embarked on a steady program of reforestation across much of the country, primarily focused on Sugi and Hinoki tree species.
Most planted trees have now reached Age Class 50 years and older and is expected to increase over the next several decades. These trees are mature and ready for harvest today. But logging costs are high in Japan for many reasons. So, forest thinning and replanting is being promoted by the Forestry Agency to enhance carbon dioxide removal targets as set out in the Paris Agreement, and to achieve Net Zero targets by 2050. The harvest and well-purposed use of Sugi is critical to achieving these goals cost-effectively.
Because the government requires replanting after harvest in equal measure, the supply of Sugi is sustainable and growing.
As a wood material, Sugi has highly desirable characteristics. Shosoin are antiquities from the Nara era (710-794 AD) gathered across the Asian continent along the Silk Road. Delicate workmanship, dyeing and weaving have remained well-preserved without losing their vivid colors and shapes, and it is said that medicines and fragrances are still effective. This excellent preservation function is said to be due to the Sugi boxes in which the treasure itself is preserved.
Trees have the property of purifying the air by absorbing and adsorbing harmful gases in the atmosphere, and it has been found that Sugi has this remarkable function as well. Experiments have shown results comparing two rooms to see how much cedar lumber absorbs harmful gases (nitrogen dioxide and formaldehyde). Sugi was able to reduce the presence of nitrogen dioxide by 78%, and also to reduce the presence of formaldehyde by 50%.
The difference in color between the heartwood and sapwood of Japaense Cedar is obvious, and the heartwood in particular ranges considerably from pink to dark reddish brown, sometimes even black. The heartwood has a moderate shelf life. It has clear annual rings and a unique fragrance. Due to the difference in afforestation methods in each production area in Japan, there is a wide range of materials. The air-dry specific gravity is 0.38 (average value), which is rather light and soft for a Japanese conifer.
Sugi is used in a wide range of applications, including construction materials of almost every home in Japan today, interior and exterior siding, ceiling panels, decorative logs, furniture, appliances, packaging, barrels, wooden clogs, disposable chopsticks, and shipbuilding.
Sugi is a unique wood species for our New Age product line. Sugi is grown today in well-managed plantation forests, with sustainable supply, government managed carbon-retention goals, and improved utilization for the 21st century.
Sugi is a new product within the New Age Line.
Sugi a less expensive Cedar wood option then our STK or CVG. It is a lesser grade cedar siding but still has the many benefits cedar offers. It also has high aromatic qualities for interior applications such as closets, humidors, and saunas. It is also a great budget outdoor living option for projects like fences, outdoor kitchens, custom planters and so on.
New Age Sugi is now available at Specialty Wood Products!
For more information please call your friendly Specialty Wood Products sales associate today!
Call toll free at 800-760-8484 or locally at 303-288-8484.