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Study Trip on Forestry and Regional Cultures for Graduate Students from Norwegian University of Life Sciences


Sixteen graduate students majoring Environmental Sciences and Natural Resource Management at Norwegian University of Life Sciences came on a study trip last June, aiming to learn about the Japanese regional forestry and the cultures surrounding it. They have voluntarily decided on coming Japan as part of their research trip, choosing Utsunomiya, Kyoto, Hida, and Nagano as their destination.

In Hida, we organized a 2-day overnight program focusing on forestry and its cultures staying FabCafe Hida. The program has been realized not just by Hidakuma but also thanks to our long-term partner Associate Professor Yoshiaki Tsuda at Sugadaira Research Station, Mountain Science Center of University of Tsukuba.

Project Overview

  • Suppor we offered:
    Desining, adjusting and realizing the program
    ・Designing and conducting the tour at Hidakuma forestry sites and sawmill
    ・Organizing lecture sessions introducing the undergoing projects from Foresty Promotion Section of Hida City and Hidakuma Inc. each.
    ・Organizing a tour to visit local sake brewery, one of the major local indutries, where traditional wood carpentry technique is part of the facilities
    ・Organizing a workshop of chopsticks making with hardwood at FabCafe Hida
    Providing FabCafe Hida and and its space as a base as well as accommodation during the stay in Hida
  • Duration
    June 2019
  • Organization Structure
    Clients: 16 graduate students from Norwegian University of Life Sciences
    Program planning and collaboration: Associate Professor Yoshiaki Tsuda at Sugadaira Research Station, Mountain Science Center, University of Tsukuba
    Program Designing: Takeshi Matsumoto and Aya Inoue from Hidakuma Inc., Workshop Management: Rina Horinouchi from Hidakuma Inc.,
    Collaboration with: Forestry Promotion Section of Hida City, Hida Forestry Union, Nishino Sawmill, Hida Crafts Museum, Watanabe Sake Brewery, and Mother’s House


Associae Professor Tsuda speaking to the students from Norway about his projects

The program in Hida for the clients from Norway was planned and creaed by Associate Professor Yoshiaki Tsuda from Sugadaira Research Station of Moutain Scinence Center at University of Tsukuba.
He is specialized in population genetics and its application for ecological conservation and management focusing on spatiotemporal scale. His recent research works extends to insects, mammals and fish classes.
Hidakuma invited Tsuda at Smart Craft Studio 2017 as a guest, and that has given us a chance to invite him again to get involved in this workshop program.

Program Details

Program Designing and Adjustment
In this program, the students and Associate Professor Tsuda discussed who to meet where and what to discuss with them during the stay, and that became the design foundation of the program. It covers not only an opportunity to learn about the forestry sites and planning, but also it has been made into a tour where the students get exposed to the local cultures, while experiencing the close lifestyle the people has with forest through creating wood products. In addition the program introduces the Hidakuma projects that involves the forest resources and digital technology, making the most of both domestic and international networks among creators, carpenters, craftsmen, and specialists. The aim for this is to give the visitors a chance think about the future of forest from various perspectives.


[Day 1]

Visit to Hidakuma Crafts Museum
End of the day - back to your own room

[Day 2]

Visit to forestry site and sawmill
Lecture sessions given by Forestry Promotion Section of Hida City and Hidakuma Inc.
Workshop of chopsticks making with hardwood
Visit to Watanabe Sake Brewery
End of the day - back to your own room

[Day 3]

(The next destination for the group is Sugadaira Research Station of Mountain Science Center at University of Tsukuba on a charter bus.)

Tour visiting forestry sites and Nishino sawmill (Miyagawacho Kuwano Forestry and Nisho Sawmill)

The tour visited a plant site of the forestry union in Hida city. Guided by Tsutomu Uwazaki and Tomoya Tanaka of the union, the students inspected the privately owned facility site in Kuwano, Miyagawacho. On site, we were able to see a series of process – starting from cutting trees with chainsaw in cedar woods with full of hardwood, gathering trees using grapple with winch, and logging. Moving timber from forest area to transitional area, temporary storage, then finally to the sawmill facility. During the tour, students discussed the difference between Japanese and Norwegian process method, also raised questions and exchanged ideas on management over land and mountain trails as well as economic aspect of the business. After the site visit, the students paid a visit to Nishino Sawmill, who specializes in hardwood.

Lectures on town planning with the use of hardwood from the Forestry Promotion Section of Hida city and Hidakuma at FabCafe Hida

Mr. Niki from Forestry Promotion Section of Hida City has given a lecture on the city’s project “Town Planning with Hardwood”. Hidakuma also gave a talk on projects including product development with the use of forest resources of Hida, and regional exchange programs offered at FabCafe. With locally unique challenges and potentials into consideration, the first lecture aimed to inform the municipally supported projects of the exchange programs between forestry union, sawmills, and furniture craftsmen. The second one run by Hidakuma aimed to inform of the projects that make use of the resources with professional designs collaborated with the architects and designers.

Walking tour of Hidafurukawa, experiencing local life and culture, including visit to Hida Crafts Museum and Watanabe Sake Brewery

The tour group paid a visit to Hida Crafts Museum, where you can observe traditional wood craft techniques including kumiki joinery. Also the students join a tour of visiting Watanabe Sake Brewery that has been in business since 1870. The students enjoyed the local food and the beautiful town that Hidafurukawa carpentry techniques and local people have created.

Challenged with kumiki joinery puzzles at Hida Crafts Museum

A visiting tour to Watanabe Sake Brewery

After a visit to the brewery, students enjoyed sake tasting

Chopstick making workshop with hardwood at FabCafe Hida 

The students had a chance to make chopsticks using one of the Japanese carpentry tools, Kanna, or plane. They picked hardwood of their choice, followed by shaving and polishing the work to complete. “Those students are very skillful and their finish work was beautiful” commented a FabCafe staff member. The students were impressed with wood patterns and figures.

Shaving chopsticks with plane

FabCafe staff Horiuch giving advice to the students on how to finish up the chopstick work

Accommodation Support in Hida at FabCafe Hida 

Students enjoyed staying at a renovated 100+ year old traditional building at FabCafe Hida. Also they enjoyed dinner on site with full of fresh local vegetables and produce.

Beautiful dinner caterd by Mother’s House

Relaxing time at FabCafe Hida


Yoshiaki Tsuda
Associate Professor at Sugadaira Research Station of Mountain Science Center at University of Tsukuba. After studying abroad at Evolutionary Biology Centre of Uppsala Universitet in Sweden in 2009, he spent the next few years researching in Italy, India, and Iriomote Island of Japan. He is in the current University position since 2015. He is specialized in population genetics and its application for ecological conservation and management focusing on spatiotemporal scale. His recent research works extends to insects, mammals and fish classes from his original area of Mangrove trees growing in subarctic regions in the world. Tsuda has been given honorable mention award from Japan Forest Society in 2019.

Takeshi Matsumoto
COO (Chief Operating Officer) and CFO (Chief Forest Officer) at Tobimushi Inc. / Hidakuma Inc.
After working at an environment consulting company, Matsumoto joined Tobimushi Inc. in 2009. In 2015, along with Hida city, Tobimushi Inc., and Loftwork Inc., he established Hidakuma Inc., a government-private sector joined enterprise, aiming to create local businesses through forestry revitalization and creation of things, and positioned as COO. On a personal note, Matsumoto is a big curry fan. His favorite wood is Japanese big leaf magnolia, Hohnoki, and he likes the scent stemming from the branch of lindera.



Special thanks

We would like to give special thanks to the students from Norwegian University of Life Sciences, Associate Professor Tsuda, great supporter Akane Kato of Master Degree Program of Mountain Studies, and all local supporters of Hida.

The last photo shot before leaving for the next destination, Sugadaira Research Station of Mountain Science Center at University of Tsukuba.

Interested in staying with us in Hida learning about local forestry, wooden techniques including Kumiki joinery and local cultures?

Hidakuma offers you various workshops and staying-in programs for those who have interest in forestry, as well as architects, designers, students and companies. The programs include forestry, town planning, architecture, and furniture designing/manufacturing to name a few. Please feel free to contact us from here.