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Edo-period forestry company faces a 21st-century problem

How a centuries-old Japanese industry is adapting to climate change

A carpenter uses a buzz saw at centuries-old forestry company Yamacho's Tanabe complex, where the machinery hasn't changed much in decades. Finishing touches, or hard-to-machine-cut jobs, are completed by hand. (Photo by Thomas Shomaker)

WAKAYAMA, Japan -- I am quite sure Takashi Sakohira noticed my apprehension as we drove along the winding, narrow mountain pass and I struggled to take my eyes off the near-vertical drop a few meters away.

We were at one of Yamacho Forestry's Wakayama Prefecture tree farms and Sakohira, the planning department general manager and my guide, was driving us up and down its forested slopes. Yamacho's origins stretch back to the mid-Edo period -- about 350 years -- and this particular farm also has a long history.

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