Forests of Minamisanriku

Fog and winds from the sea and their wealth of minerals produce strong and healthy trees.

“Fog and winds from the sea and their wealth of minerals produce strong and healthy trees.”

Minamisanriku is also known as a “forestry town” with the topographical features of a ria coastline. Along the coastline, mountain ridges plunge into the sea and cedar trees of good quality grow on the mountainsides.

Over four hundred years ago, Lord Date Masamune built Sendai Castle. When constructing the Ohashi Bridge over the Hirose River to the castle, a search was made throughout the clan’s territory for the appropriate wood to use, and the Japanese cedar growing in Minamisanriku was selected for the bridge. Four hundred-year-old trees were used in building this wooden bridge. One tree, which was not felled at the time, is “Tarobo,” still standing at the Aresawa Shrine. With an estimated age of eight hundred years, “Tarobo” was damaged by the Great East Japan Earthquake and is feared to be dying.

Japanese cedar trees growing in Minamisanriku are tall and many of them are taller than 30 meters in height. They grow tall and straight and the difference between the largest girth and smallest girth of the trunk is small, considering the years of their growth. The trees produce very narrow, beautiful, pale pink annual rings and they have greater strength than the average Japanese cedar.

Because of the favorable soil conditions of Minamisanriku, Japanese cedar trees grow for hundreds of years. Although annual precipitation is not significant, fog and winds from the sea that contain a wealth of minerals are said to contribute to producing strong and healthy trees.

People working to conserve mountain forests are also part of the natural cycle of life. Routine work being done diligently by the people who work in the mountains helps bring us bounties from the sea and mountains. The hard-working attitude and philosophy of the people who have long taken care of the forests in the mountainous environment have made the Japanese cedar forests of Minamisanriku into their present stately form.