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Forage the Forest Prize

Nihon Kusaki Lab

Yamabushi llc.


The Japan Plant and Vegetation Research Institute (J-PRI) is uncovering the potential of vegetation in satoyama throughout Japan in order to realize an everyday life in which Japanese trees and unnamed wild plants are a natural part of our dining and living environment. The Institute has partner-affiliated mountains throughout Japan and aims to realize the valorization of Japan’s pristine edible plant resources, including the procurement of its own raw materials, and the accompanying revitalization of local industries, sustainable food supply, and new international competitiveness. It is a research institute that repeatedly goes into satoyama throughout Japan to collect, record, and present information, experimenting with delicious valorization.

Detailed explanation of the submitted project or idea.

Mountains of Japan are home to many native plants that are no less potent than foreign spices and herbs. For example, there are Japanese mountain peppercorns called futoukazura, Japanese cinnamon trees such as nikkei, and trees famous for their fragrance such as hinoki (cypress), sugi (cedar), and kuromoji (spicebush). However, there is a strong image that “mountain plant resources = building materials,” and there are almost no projects to review plant resources from the viewpoint of food. Nihon Kusaki Lab focuses on the value of such mountain plant resources and has added new value to them, producing products such as gin, syrups, and salt.


Comments from Judges

Kotaro Iwaoka

Hidakuma CEO

Forage the Forest Prize

Every time I enter a forest, I’m reminded that these are treasure troves of diversity, not just sites of timber production. The creative work of Nihon Kusaki Lab is helping to revive the cultural wisdom and ingenuity involved in sourcing food from local woodlands, bringing human interest and activity back to the forest.

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