Toru Hayami does not conceal his excitement when he talks about his "forest of 400 years" in the town of Kihoku, Mie Prefecture.

"They are 100 years old and will stay there for 300 more years," said Hayami, 62, who is the ninth-generation head of family-run forest management company Hayami Forest.

As he spoke, he pointed at hinoki cypress trees as tall as 40 meters that are sparsely planted on a steep slope near the top of a mountain in the town, which faces the Pacific Ocean.