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Forests of Japan's Holy Heartland

Cultural Quintessence

Japan In-depth

Kateigaho International Edition

Kateigaho International Edition

KIE Index

At Kumano Nachi Taisha shrine there is no hall for the main deity—the 133-meter cascade is the symbol of the god and object of worship. The 20th-century French writer and statesman Andre Malraux said this waterfall gave him a sense of the sacred, writing "A towering colonnade, a towering waterfall, a sword blade disappearing into light, Japan."

text by Editorial Staff
photography by Yasunobu Kobayashi


Two-thirds of Japan is forested, but throughout the archipelago, from the subarctic to the subtropical zones, virgin forest accounts for only 1 percent of the trees. One could say that the basis of Japan's culture and spirituality lies in these forests. The deep woods—sacred places into which men did not lightly tread—evoked reverence and stirred the imagination. As if it were embedded in our DNA, awe of sacred trees still dwells in the hearts of modern Japanese.

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