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Promoting the Use of Broad-leaved Trees via Creative Ideas

Utilizing forest resources in new ways to revitalize forests, local areas, and industries

Hidakuma inc.(Gifu Prefecture)

Promoting the Use of Broad-leaved Trees via Creative Ideas


Hidakuma inc. is a company in Hida City, Gifu Prefecture, Japan, that is committed to utilizing broad-leaved trees and revitalizing the local community from a perspective focusing on creativity and innovation. Hida City is located nearly at the center of Japan, and 93.5% of the city’s area is covered by forests, of which 68% are broad-leaved trees. However, broad-leaved trees in Hida City vary widely in type and shape, and, as many of them have a small diameter, they have been distributed at low prices to be used in the production of paper and woodchips for fuel.

In 2014, the Hida City municipal government launched “Broad-leaved Trees City Planning” project to revitalize the city, which is suffering from a declining and aging population. By creating new ways to use broad-leaved trees and increasing their value, the project will work to provide opportunities for more interaction among communities, industries, and people inside and outside the area, as well as to manage the forest with a sustainable approach in order to pass on local resources to the next generation. 

To promote these activities, Hidakuma was established in 2015 by the municipal government of Hida City, creative solutions company Loftwork (based in Tokyo), and Tobimushi, which engages in community-building through forest utilization. Hidakuma works in cooperation with local forestry and woodworking companies to promote the utilization of broad-leaved trees from a completely new perspective.

Successful outcomes

  • Through the Hidakuma project, the wood from Hida City is being used as furniture, fixtures, and construction materials at companies, universities, exhibitions, and other facilities across Japan, creating a new cycle for the forest resources as well as for the economy of the area. (In Hida City, 93% of all wood was previously used for paper and fuel chips, with 7% for furniture; however, now about 20 to 30% is used for furniture, etc., increasing the value of the wood through the launch of the "Broad-leaved Trees City Planning" project.)
  • Hidakuma has not only been organizing these projects but is also managing cafes, holding events, tours, and workshops through which visitors can explore the forest and experience the culture of the local area, and holding training sessions, etc., which have increased the level of involvement in broad-leaved tree forestry in Hida City and attracted more people to come to the area.

"Mori no Ha" Office: Conveying the Possibilities of Hida City's Broad-leaved Trees

In 2022, Hidakuma’s “Mori no Ha” Office was established at the foot of the mountains in Hida City, in an area where a timber supplier and a sawmill gather, specializing in handling broad-leaved trees. The term “mori no ha” means “edge of the forest” and thus refers to the place where the forest meets the city. While broad-leaved trees are not generally used in the main structure of buildings, the office’s architecture pursues new possibilities for broad-leaved trees by using them throughout an entire building, including for main structural components, interior materials, heat-insulating materials, and furniture.

In Hida City, many of these trees are bent by winter snowfall, requiring more ingenuity in construction than construction using coniferous trees. The architect and the members of Hidakuma selected a variety of trees from mountain areas owned by the municipal government, including beech, mizunara, magnolia, yamamezakura, Japanese cherry birch, and chestnut, and combined them to ensure safety based on structural calculations and to create an office that conveys the richness and appeal of Hida City’s broad-leaved trees.

Mr. Kotaro IWAOKA, co-representative of Hidakuma, commented: “We were able to realize the ‘Mori no Ha’ Office because Hida City has a wide variety of broad-leaved trees, as well as timber suppliers, sawmills, woodworking factories, and wood-drying facilities specializing in this type of lumber. The office is located right on the border of the city and the forest. We want to bring people in the city closer to the forest, to get them to know and love Hida’s forests, and to encourage them to want to use these trees.”

Hidakuma has connected businesses in a way never done before, creating new value, opportunities, challenges, and partnerships. This has become a significant driving force for Hida City toward achieving its goal of becoming the center of initiatives for utilizing broad-leaved trees in Japan by gathering the wisdom and human resources of Hida City.

“Mori no Ha” Office is also used as a showroom to introduce Hida City’s trees and as a base for people involved in the “Broad-leaved Trees City Planning” project, and this attracts visitors to the office.

In addition to this project, Hidakuma manages the FabCafe Hida at a 100-year-old folk house in the city, approximately one kilometer from the “Mori no Ha” Office. Guests take part in making things with broad-leaved trees using digital fabrication such as 3D printers and laser cutters as well as woodworking equipment. The cafe also serves as accommodation for people staying overnight. Their menu includes coffee laced with a type of spicebush that grows in Hida City and dishes using local ingredients.

Mr. IWAOKA says: “Trees are not timber, and forests are not timber either. Visiting a forest to see trees is different from seeing trees turned into lumber. Trees in the forest really have different charms. We would like to take on the challenge of creating new value from the possibilities of trees, forests, the local area, and the Japanese people’s way of living as handed down from generation to generation.”

"Mori no Ha" Office

Hidakuma inc.

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