Vegetation History and Archaeobotany

, Volume 23, Issue 6, pp 649–664 | Cite as

Human impact on the Kiso-hinoki cypress woodland in Japan: a history of exploitation and regeneration

  • Junko KitagawaEmail author
  • Toshiyoshi Fujiki
  • Kazuyoshi Yamada
  • Yasuharu Hoshino
  • Hitoshi Yonenobu
  • Yoshinori Yasuda
Original Article


The Kiso-hinoki (Kiso-Japanese cypress, Chamaecyparis obtusa) woodland underwent severe deforestation in the early 17th century, then regenerated through conservation during the Edo period. Now, a suitable management strategy is sought in order to maintain its ecological function in the forest. To understand the vegetation changes and human impact, sediment cores were recovered from Lake Tadachi in the Kiso-hinoki cypress woodland in the central uphill region of Honshu island. In addition, stratigraphic pollen analysis on two cores (Nos. 6 and 10) and phytolith analysis on three strata of one core (No. 6) was conducted. The age-depth models were constructed based on 14C dating, greyscale analysis on the sediments, and the increasing level of Cryptomeria pollen (about a.d. 1960) from the pollen profiles. In all periods, the dominant pollen taxa were Cupressaceae and Quercus subgen. Lepidobalanus type. Our analysis indicates that after the commencement of Shikinen-sengu, which is the rebuilding of the Ise Grand Shrine every 20 years, Cupressaceae pollen decreased and the woodland was gradually replaced by Quercus subgen. Lepidobalanus. The percentages of Cupressaceae pollen decreased dramatically and the expansion of secondary woodlands was accompanied by an increase of Quercus subgen. Lepidobalanus in the early 17th century cal. a.d. However, depletion of the woodland was determined from a decrease in concentration of Quercus pollen. The conservation activity during the Edo period and after the Meiji Restoration brought about woodland recovery. However, based on our pollen and phytolith analysis, significant changes to the woodland habitats can be detected. These were probably due to human impacts, most notably in the years after World War II. Four major turning points as the result of human influence were identified: the 10th century, the late 16th century, the Meiji restoration (a.d. 1863), and the end of World War II. The original cypress woodland mixed with deciduous broad-leaved elements has been greatly reduced, preventing future cypress woodland regeneration after World War II.


Kiso-hinoki cypress Lake Tadachi Pollen Phytolith Shikinen-sengu (rebuilding the shrine) Conservation 



This study was partly supported by MEXT-Japan and JSPS KAKENHI (grant nos. 22500992, 21101002 and 23240116). We cordially thank Mr. Nobuyuki Kitazawa at the Nagiso branch of the Kiso District Forest Office for his help in the forest.

Supplementary material

334_2013_423_MOESM1_ESM.jpg (3.3 mb)
Photographs showing the research area. 1: Lake Tadachi; 2-4: Kiso-Ch. obtusa (Kiso-hinoki cypress) forest in the research area. Sasa covers the forest floor (JPEG 3423 kb)


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Copyright information

© Springer-Verlag Berlin Heidelberg 2013

Authors and Affiliations

  • Junko Kitagawa
    • 1
    Email author
  • Toshiyoshi Fujiki
    • 2
  • Kazuyoshi Yamada
    • 3
  • Yasuharu Hoshino
    • 4
  • Hitoshi Yonenobu
    • 5
  • Yoshinori Yasuda
    • 6
  1. 1.International Research Center for Japanese StudiesKyotoJapan
  2. 2.AIG Collaborative Research Institute for International Study on Eruputive History and InformaticsFukuoka UniversityFukuokaJapan
  3. 3.School of Human SciencesWaseda UniversityTokorozawaJapan
  4. 4.Nara National Research Institute for Cultural PropertiesNaraJapan
  5. 5.Naruto University of EducationNarutoJapan
  6. 6.Graduate School of Environmental StudiesTohoku UniversitySendaiJapan

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