• Kyodo

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A tree-cutting ceremony took place in the village of Shirakawa on Tuesday to mark the start of lumber procurement for a communal facility in the Olympic Village at the 2020 Tokyo Games.

The Gifu Prefecture village is one of 63 municipalities providing wood for the Village Plaza as part of an initiative by the Tokyo Games organizing committee to involve all parts of Japan.

Beginning with a prayer for safety, the ceremony featured the town’s mayor chanting and beating a wooden axe against the trees. Chain saws were then used to cut down a Japanese cypress tree 28 meters high and 50 centimeters in diameter.

A representative from the organizing committee presented a wooden shield made of local cypress to the town. The representative said shields would be given to each local government participating in the project. Shirakawa was the first municipality to conduct such a ceremony.

Set to be built in the Harumi waterfront area of Tokyo, the Village Plaza will form part of the village. It will be made with domestic wood to showcase Japan’s culture and traditions and serve as an example of environmental sustainability.

The facility will be equipped with a cafe, florist and a media center for interviews with athletes. The venue will be dismantled immediately after the games end. The lumber will be returned to the municipalities so they can keep a legacy from the games.

Each local government will be responsible for the cost of procuring, processing and transporting the wood before the games, and will also repurpose it afterward.

The wood, to be marked as “Used in Village Plaza,” will not be made available for commercial purposes. Instead, authorities will be able to use it for public buildings and benches.

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