1. stingrae

    stingrae Member

    May 8, 2017
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    Types of trees in a Japanese forest

    Discussion in 'Research' started by stingrae, May 9, 2017.

    I've been scouring the internet for a while and can't find a solid answer. What kinds of trees, bushes, plants can you expect to see in an uninhabited Japanese forest? Is there a difference in what is present now versus several hundred years ago?

    In my story, one of the characters lives in the forest. I want to be accurate on what trees are present; obviously I don't want him surrounded by what would actually be potted plants or a species that was actually introduced by man.
  2. NoGoodNobu

    NoGoodNobu Contributor Contributor

    Sep 19, 2016
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    For a list of Japanese forests, and some I believe list the flora

    Remember that Japan is primarily made up of three major Islands (Kyushu, Honshu, and Hokkaido) and some smaller islands—they can all have unique geography depending on what area your forest occupies in Japan

    I spend most of my time in the cities of Tokyo, Osaka, Fukuoka, or else Ibusuki so I really can't tell you much of the forests

    My family mostly wants to go shopping in places like Shibuya or Shinsaibashi or relax at fancy onsen resorts
  3. Novelist_Wannabe

    Novelist_Wannabe New Member

    Apr 9, 2017
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    I'm not an expert on trees, but I live in Japan and enjoy snowboarding off piste, so I have some experience of what the forests are like.

    The first question you need to ask is whether he lives in Hokkaido (the northernmost island) or one of the other main islands.

    Hokkaido takes up only a small proportion of the land mass, but is much less densely populated. The forests there look different to the rest of the country. There are a more evergreen trees, and the place looks pictures I've seen of Siberia.

    If you want to see how the forests in the rest of the country look, you can try doing a Google Image search for "Aokigahara" or "Mount Takao".

    What part of Japan he lives in will also affect his life in other ways:

    The further south he is, the more problems he will have with typhoons (which are most common in autumn, but can also strike in summer). Especially in Kyushu they can be brutal. If he lives in a log cabin, he might find it destroyed by wind every few years. Typhoons also dump a lot of rain in a short period of time, which often triggers landslides.

    If he lives in Hokkaido, he will also be spared monsoon rains in June. However the flipside of this is that winters will be cold (you can see ice floes on the northern coast of Hokkaido). Also if he lives in Touhoku (the northern part of Honshu) the winters will also be quite cold.

    Also, the Japan Sea side of Japan gets very heavy snow (like lake-effect snow in the US), while the Pacific Ocean coast is very dry in winter.

    If this character lives in Hokkaido, he will also have to deal with a type of bear called a higuma that is not found elsewhere in Japan. It looks and behaves a lot like a grizzly, but is slightly larger.

    With regards to how the forests have changed over time, in the 20th century around Tokyo there were a lot of planting of a type of cedar tree that Japanese people call sugi. But now a lot of these plantations have been abandoned as they are not economically viable anymore.
  4. jdearman777

    jdearman777 New Member

    Jun 5, 2017
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    Try this page here

    Types of trees in Japan

    You could probably go with any of these

    Japanese maples are especially beautiful when they flower


    Japanese forestsfacts

    Trees forests and religion in japan

    Japan's suicide forest

    You should have some Bonsai trees probably
    Types of Bonsai trees

    Japanese forest vocabulary

    Common tree species used for Bonsai

    Now keep in mind the climate gets progressively colder as you move from south to north japan which is actually semi tropical to temperate and as you get up into Hokkaido its closer to a colder climate as you get closer to Russia.
    the tree soecies are likely to vary with elevation as well so it would depend on where your setting is there'd be various different tree types just like inthe US how you go from shrub like trees in desert areas like Arizon to Evergreens on top of the mountains of Arizna.

    Keep in mind the elevation chnages and changes in vegetation - in your sxcript if your character goes from a low costaline or valey up into the mountains

    also difrferent soil types and what crops the soils can support. like maybe more rice paddies in the south to vegetable gardens up north.

    hope this helps
    jannert likes this.
  5. jannert

    jannert Who? Whooo? Staff Supporter Contributor

    Mar 7, 2013
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    If you're wanting to get the 'look' of these forests as well as the kinds of trees that make up the forest (lyrical versus clinical) you could do much worse than look at the paintings and prints made by Hiroshi Yoshida. He was a Japanese artist who was born in 1876 and died in 1950. Be careful, because some of his subjects are drawn from other places in the world besides Japan, but the Japanese ones are just about as gorgeous and atmospheric as paintings get. Get a sample from this google search...https://www.google.co.uk/search?q=Hiroshi+Yoshida+images&client=firefox-b&tbm=isch&tbo=u&source=univ&sa=X&ved=0ahUKEwjKyqzx2ajUAhWrB8AKHZalCoQQsAQIJQ&biw=1173&bih=774#imgrc=thsSICsVYZnvtM:
  6. Commandante Lemming

    Commandante Lemming Contributor Contributor

    May 8, 2014
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    Washington, DC, USA
    If you're in the US (or not) one of the places to call would be the US National Arboretum in Washington, DC (it's basically a zoo for trees - I live here and it's beautiful). Anyway, they have a rather extensive Asian garden including a Japanese Woodland. It's beautiful and very foreign-looking to a Westerner because the plants are SO different. Their website isn't much use, but they have photo tours, and if you call or email, you might be able to get a tree list or some photos of their Japanese Woodland. (My impression of it, as a total non-plant-nerd, was that the leaves on everything looked sharper and spiky and pointed relative to American trees.
  7. gaja

    gaja New Member

    Feb 22, 2017
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    Cercidiphyllum is a type of tree that 60 million years ago used to be all over the world, but today you can only find growing in the wild in Japan and parts of China. The rotting leaves have a very specific, sweet smell, in the autumn and early winter.
  8. HisSweetheart

    HisSweetheart Member

    Apr 28, 2017
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    The Gem State
    I grew up in Japan and often "went exploring" in the woods near our house. I lived on the mainland (Honshyu) about an hour or so from Hiroshima so I only know what the forests there look like. The main trees are bamboo (obviously :)), evergreens, oaks, maples, and wild cherry, plum, and peach. There wasn't alot of underbrush like I've seen in forests here in the States. They have ferns of different kinds, wild azalea bushes, thistles, but not alot of bushes and stuff. Definitely none of this brush-to-your-knees like here. The wild life was rabbits, frogs, foxes, little wild pigs, monkeys, and lots of mosquitos. Also where I lived they only had two kinds of snakes. The short brightly striped ones were Pit Vipers and were pretty deadly while the long green or brown ones were Green Generals and weren't poisonous.

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