If you drive, ride or fly over Japan, you might note that a very large part of the country is covered with trees. If you’re traveling in autumn or early winter, you might also note that much of the forested land is in uniform patches and swaths of dense, dark green, or perhaps a faint pale-yellowish-brown. The dark green will most probably be Japanese cypress (hinoki) or Japanese cedar (sugi). The pale-yellowish-brown plantations are probably Japanese larch (karamatsu), a conifer that changes color and sheds its needles before winter.

Whether it’s the dark-green or yellowish-brown trees that catch your eye, most will have been planted since the end of World War II in 1945, when the national policy was to replace mixed-growth forest with conifers.

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