For that house, we cut this tree  

Speciality Cut

The charm of Sobokuya is that we act both as carpenters and woodcutters. We select and fell trees while imagining the house that will be built with the selected trees: "we will use this pine tree for the main post, this cypress tree will make a beautiful floor, the maple tree will make an elegant kitchen top, and the zelkova tree a stately table". We imagine the future of all the trees before we select and fell them for construction. It is our way to integrate the beauty of nature into our projects. Hisashi Imai, the president of Sobokuya, is a very skilled woodcutter. He knocks down large trees with perfect skill and ease. His carpentry skills however, are just above average.

Showing gratitude to nature:
the purification ritual cannot be skipped

Showing gratitude to nature:
the purification ritual cannot be skipped

We must not forget to thank the trees as we cut then down. Salt and sake are offered to the trees to be felled, and a heartfelt prayer is offered: "We will not treat the trees carelessly, we will use them as part of a magnificent house." After offering a heartfelt prayer, we begin the felling process. At Sobokuya trees from the client's land are often felled and used as materials for posts and beams. The house builder and the residents come together.

Felling with
complete safety

Felling with complete safety

Great care must be taken in felling trees. Laxity can be fatal. First, look up at the sky. What is the tree's centre of gravity? What is your relationship to the trees around you? Next, carefully assess the direction of the tree against which it is to be felled. Finally, the tree is toppled. The chain saw is inserted precisely at right angles to the direction of fall. Double check the direction of the notch cut and make a felling cut on the opposite side. Insert a wedge into the felling cut. The tree slowly leans and eventually falls. If the blade is not inserted correctly, the tree will not fall where you expect it to.

Woodcutters soar
in the sky

Woodcutters soar in the sky

Forests are not the only logging sites. Big trees also stand in narrow residential areas. Naturally, there is no space for them to fall. To properly fell them the lumberjacks become a “sorashi”, similar an arborists. They ride on cranes, hang from ropes and manipulate chainsaws, saws and machetes at will in the sky. They drop branches and fell the trees little by little starting from the top of the trees. The felled trees are not toppled. The trees may look small, but they are big and heavy. Roofs and other structures could be easily destroyed if the trees were to fall. The tree is lowered safely to the ground with a rope.

After felling,

After felling, planting

Conifers are planted at the logging site for Sobokuya to use in construction 100 years later. Conifers are quite vulnerable, they are often overtaken by the robust broadleaf trees; the hardwoods outgrow and overtake them when planted. To prevent this, hardwood trees are cut down when they are still young, this process is known as clear-cutting. This is an unnatural act; nature is only natural when broadleaf trees outcompete conifers. The ordinary person may not realise that planted mountains are unnatural and distorted. We clear the trees with an apology to nature.

Please consult with us about your project.

Consultations on moving to the Yatsugatake region, finding land, climate and topography, etc., are available. We also offer tours of a model house built using the wooden frame construction method.