The Oshirakawa Forestry Association, based in Niigata Prefecture’s Uonuma City, began actively using local resources in 2016. The activities are being led by Professor Kamitani, Doctor of Agriculture in Niigata University’s Faculty of Agriculture, and are leading the way in the creation of high value-added products that make use of the snow beech tree, found exclusively in the snow-covered mountains of Niigata Prefecture in the snowy country, broadening its appeal and linking it to local revitalisation efforts.
Long ago, these trees were used to produce charcoal for heat, but as charcoal was replaced by coal and oil, the forests were abandoned. When trees were thinned to protect the forest, none of the material was used. The purpose of the Snow Beech project is to ensure these materials are being used more effectively to prevent the wasting of limited resources, and to show our gratitude for the blessings of nature.
Snow beech trees from snowy Niigata Prefecture are characterized by their thick, straight trunks, fine-grained white wood, and low occurrence of false heartwood from growing while bearing heavy snow.