To Feel the Timber through Making Your Eating Utensils

The Problem of Afforestation in Japan





Driving through the dense woods in the rural Kyoto, I was surrounded by straight and tall trees that seem to strive all the way up high. The leaves and branches were only growing near the treetop, whereas the tree trunks near the ground look rather bare. I wishfully thought that was some kind of spiritual power of nature that standardizes the orderly outlook. I simply found this woods particularly charming. It was only until later that I came to realize that the woods was actually an artificial forest. To meet the increasing demand of housing caused by economic boom, afforestation companies removed the original plantations on the mountain and planted Cryptomeria and Cypress which can be used as ideal building materials.

Attributed to the massive import of cheap timber in recent years, some afforestation companies started to neglect the plantation of Cryptomeria in the wild. This non-native forestation has thrived without supervision and started to lose the balance. Another issue that is giving the Japanese a headache is the pollens produced by the trees, which is the major contributor to the widespread of hay fever. The increasing forest density has already become a major issue for all the Japanese prefectures. To start tackling the problem, it is crucial to first raise people’s awareness.

KINO is a DIY wooden eating utensil set made from cryptomeria timber from the Tama area in Tokyo. It was designed to remind the public of the importance of local Japanese lumber and hope to solve the problem arisen from the artificial forests.

Each KINO collection comes with three items including a teaspoon, a pair of chopsticks, and a butter knife. Each of them is a set that contains a piece of cryptomeria wood, a piece of cypress wood, wax polish, sandpaper and cloth for polishing, etc. Everyone can draw on the wood a shape they desire for the eating utensil and craft it out carefully. After polishing with sandpaper, coating them with wax, and cleaning them with the cloth, it will become a unique item that is created from scratch. Through this process, we can finally experience the process of turning a piece of wood into a meaningful item and thence understand the beauty of lumber and the woods.