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Daisugi Technique: Japanese Art of Growing Compact Cedar Forests

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Greetings to my readers!

Our civilization is organized as we believe it to be. Organized by psychological constructs such as hierarchy and by possession of material wealth namely amenities , resources and currency. The wheels of life move in accordance with these aspects, but we seem to miss the point in our everyday struggle sometimes. The material resources that we value so much are false symbols, false not in their utilities but their origins.

The actual resources that we were blessed with are far more worth than the ones we make of them. This month’s blog tries to revitalize something that we’ve encountered in textbooks numerous times before and add something that I assume should be discussed by more people

My dear readers, I’d love to introduce you to the baroque and complex art of Daisugi technique of growing cedar trees. Now before sinking our teeth deeper into this discussion, I’d like to inform you all that this blog will contain a plethora of words and expressions which find their origin in oriental languages (Japanese primarily) , I’ll try to translate every word that might cause dissonance. So translating the name of the technique itself, Daisugi literally means Platform Cedar.

It is a Horticulture technique dating back to the 15th century in the Muramachi period, discovered just outside Kyoto, in the Land of the Rising Sun. The technique is a revered cultural phenomenon that was used to grow Kityama trees. Kitayama trees are known as Cedar in english and Devdaar in hindi. These trees possess certain characteristics that made them linked to this technique for eternity.

These trees also hold great significance in Japanese culture as they tend to be the sole constituents of the framework for traditional tea shops and artistic alcoves called Tokonoma. Tokonoma is essentially a specialized space or room, whose purpose is to display artistic pieces and valuable items. The demand for these trees drove the Japanese natives to discover a method that proved to be an equalizer in terms of supply and demand.

Now coming to the methodology of Daisugi. The daisugi technique begins with heavy pruning of a healthy cedar tree, referred to as Mother cedar. Pruning is a horticultural term which can be defined as a practice of removing selected parts from a flora’s body to either manipulate growth or to safeguard it from certain infections. The purpose of chipping down the bark of cedar or pruning it is to promote upward growth of sapling shoots that are to be grown.

Once the Mother Cedar is created using pruning, saplings are grown on the integument of the tree. The end product of this masterful technique resembles a Life size Bonsai plant. Once the sapling shoots have grown considerably, they can be surgically removed and replanted as a separate organism or else left on the sheath of the Matriarch which bears them.  A single Mother Cedar can carry around a dozen saplings at a given moment. 

Now reigniting the point of discussion, that Cedar trees are entwined with this horticultural technique to such an extent that they are even mentioned in the name itself. Cedar as a plant exhibits a few physical characteristics that make it the perfect subject for this technique. The characteristics being it’s firm and slender trunk structure which is nigh on perfect straight, the smooth composition which has an absolute absence of knots in bark. These few factors make growing a plant on another plant possible in case of Kitayama or Cedar.

Before going any further, it is blatantly apparent to continue the survival of our species we need trees upright and alive than we need products made of timber. I have absolutely no intention of explaining the terms like deforestation or climate change and their impact on our planet. But what I’d like to propose here is maybe a solution to this problem , a solution which provides a viable alternative to the lumber and timber industry without compromising the flora population. Creation of reserved vertical forests using the Daisugi technique.

One of the key issues with forest cover is the amount of area it consumes and it’s density. Often we see that the desire of human expansion overshadows the need for maintaining forestry in the area. Reserved Vertical forests provide a similar density without occupying a similar amount of area in the horizontal axis. The shift in axis results in reduced consumption of usable areas while maintaining the flora population.

Now it is highly unlikely that a simpleton like myself will ever be able to come up with a solution to global calamity all by myself, the plan that I presented for you to ponder on comes with it’s own set of stumbling blocks. Primarily, forests in various parts of the world constitute a varied tree population. These tree populations or species come with their very own diverse set of characteristics which may or not support Daisugi.

Secondly, forests are not merely a collective of trees but also of the fauna that resides amidst these trees. Another Gordian knot that poses hindrance in the fruition of this plan is Ecological imbalance. The very sustenance of our ecosystem depends on the definite balance of an infinite number of processes, introducing any new variable might push our survival towards the edge of oblivion.

Lastly, successful creation of these forests needs a great deal of research and material resources , but their continued existence needs extensive efforts. These forests need tending and this task would be an undertaking and that to a long one. The time that a cedar tree needs to fully mature is about 2 decades, to grow a forest we need dedicated resources to ensure their sustenance which in my opinion is a just investment. I would not be following this blog with the usual holier than thou kind of a rant but a sincere yet simple thought, we need more trees.

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