The cherry tree (sakura in Japanese) is one of the symbols of Japan. The yearly sakura viewing is a nationwide event with special forecasts on when the trees will bloom in each prefecture. Both fiscal and school year start in April to coincide with sakura blossoming.

Is making furniture or toys from sakura timber frowned upon in Japan?

It seems that the sakura also has religious connotations in Shinto and parts of the tree were treated as sacred objects. Wikipedia says:

Japanese pilots would paint them on the sides of their planes before embarking on a suicide mission, or even take branches of the trees with them on their missions.

Wikipedia mentions only Korea as having traditional sakura carpentry. I found Japanese companies using cherry wood in their products, but then again, there are also McDonald's in India. Perhaps their products are made for export.

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    This might be a subtler subject than I'm thinking, but two Japanese craft traditions seem to be strong evidence that material from cherry trees is not held to be something you can't/could not use due to a religious objection. They are kabazaiku (cherry-bark veneering, used extensively on boxes) and ukiyo-e printmaking, which uses cherry for the blocks. I think the sacred regard certain cherry trees are held in relates to their location (e.g. near Shinto shrines) along with their great age (which Japan is not unique in holding in high regard) rather than being inherent to all cherry trees.
    – Graphus
    Commented Feb 15, 2022 at 19:28

1 Answer 1



In addition to the two long-standing craft traditions I mention in my Comment above that provided strong evidence, I found the following references which dispel any notion that use of the wood in a domestic setting is sacrilege.

In addition to how visually appealing its short-lived flowers are, the cherry tree has also molded Japanese culture in a more tangible way. Cherry wood has been used in various wooden fittings in historical buildings as well as for interior elements, such as thresholds and pillars of tokonoma alcoves. It has also been a raw material for high-quality furniture and musical instruments.

Source: The Excellence of Yamazakura: Mountain Cherries and the Disappearing Tradition of Ukiyo-e Craft.

[cherry wood] is typically used as a material for high-end furniture, musical instruments, buildings, finish carpentry, and wood carvings.

Source: Hidakuma website.

It even goes on to mention:

In Japan, sakura is the most popular smoking chips with strong scent.


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