They Are The Traces of Trees’ Life.
“It’s intimidatingly yellow,” Te.Te.Ro says.
“This is mulberry. When you fell the tree, the freshly-cut surface is vivid yellow. Almost like the traffic light kind of yellow. So yellow that it’s almost intimidating.”
The way he talks of trees is quite his-own.
“This is zelkova. This one too… but their colours are totally different, aren’t they?” I eagerly nod to his question.
“None of the trees are the same.”
I meet him in his workshop. Wooden furniture, plates and cutleries surround the sturdy-looking wooden table in the centre. Looking out from the window, I see a patch of solar-panel-filled land.
“It used to be a cedar forest when I moved in. It was all cedar.”
I sense disapproval…?
After WWII, there was a surge in demand for construction materials nationwide; cedar and cypress trees were planted onto the “bald mountains,” which was the reflection of material scarcity then.
“These coniferous trees’ grains tend to be straight and easy to use for housing and furniture, but if we let nature take its course, these deciduous trees surely are part of our forest, too.”
His place is located on a hilltop, after a good 10-minute drive up in the woods from the nearest concrete pavement. He moved here 20 years ago and started building the house and his own studio.
The cedar forest then has been cut down, and the land is now covered with a variety of trees consisting of chestnuts, mulberries, zelkova … the deciduous kinds, plus the solar panels.
“The forest grew naturally. Birds brought seeds,” he says.
I ask how he procures the materials.
“I don’t actively go around looking for materials, to be honest.” His neighbours usually come asking him to take care of the trees they felled. Felling trees is part of maintaining forests but bringing them down and making good use of them require extra muscle work.
His intention is to utilise the material around him and deliver to the people around him through the people around him. There is thoroughness to him; his vision and action are aligned from start to finish, from a piece of log to an entire forest.
“You see, this part, it’s where the branch came out of the trunk. It was holding its own weight… must have been quite tough,” he says, while pointing at one darker part of the wood.
Here is the lampshade enlivening the life of the chestnut tree.
Cracks and bumps are all there to be cherished and honoured as they are the traces of one’s life, like broken joints and swollen knuckles…
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Profile photo courtesy of Sayaka Takizawa