Forest Resources for Living
The Kiso area, in southwestern Nagano Prefecture, consists of Shiojiri City and Kiso-gun (county) and covers a total area of 1,836 km2, which is comparable to that of a small prefecture in Japan.
Mt. Ontake has long been worshiped as a sacred mountain to which one’s spirit returns. The Kisogawa River flows through forests of hinoki cypress and rock formations in the valley. Kisoji runs along the river.
Approximately 90% of the Kiso Valley is covered in forest.
Arable lands were small in Kiso and not sufficient to sustain the people of the area. In the era of Hideyoshi Toyotomi, a wood tax was imposed in place of a rice tax, which was the norm in those days, and rice was issued to the people in return for paying the wood tax.
While rice was the foundation of the economy in the Edo Period, the wood tax continued into that period. The plentiful forest resources supported life in Kiso.
Tsumago-juku seen from Tsumago Castle ruins (Nagiso Town)