SHIGA, Oct. 19 — A couple who runs a woodworking shop in Koka, Shiga Prefecture, manufactures and sells woodcraft using tea trees which are no longer in use.
Yoshitsugu Okada, 68, and his wife Tomoko, 66, offer a variety of wooden products — teaspoons, kuromoji Lindera umbellata picks used when eating Japanese sweets, traditional Japanese ornamental hairpins and earrings — to promote the city’s Tsuchiyama district which is a tea producing area.
Kuromoji trees, also called Japanese spicebush, are commonly used to make high-quality toothpicks and chopsticks. The trees, known for its antiviral effects, are also used to make herb tea.
The couple also design and produce tea utensils, accessories and toys from old tea trees they obtained from tea farmers whom they are acquainted with.
The Koka Municipal Government which has been promoting “mokuiku,” educational activities focused on offering experience with wood, this year presented a wooden puzzle featuring a tanuki racoon dog created by the couple to some 600 newborn babies in the city.
“I hope people will become familiar with trees in their community from the time they are born,” Okada said.