Wood for winter

Wood   This is how I spend the first hour of each day. Splitting wood. Then some more splitting. I got this wood from about 15 minutes away, the remains of a clear cut on a couple of acres that I loaded and transported myself. It is mostly cypress with some ceder thrown in. Not the best for heating but great for the price. Free. I usually use the end cuts from a mill down the road. A bundle 3 meters long, and 1.5 meters in diameter. Cost? 500 yen. The wood is free, 500 yen covers transportation. For one winter usually 3 bundles will give you enough wood to luxuriate in 40 degree comfort throughout the house.  We use kerosene to heat our water and if we didn’t use a wood stove we would have to use it(kerosene) for our heating.  The price of kerosene has doubled in the last couple of years. It is now 88 yen per liter, about 1,600 yen per 18 liter can. Usually one can will last roughly one week. If you only use kerosene heaters you have to use one in each room you are in during the time you are in the room.  It seemed inefficient to me for the longest time. I have read statistics that Japan has the most efficient energy usage of the OECD countries. I would guess that is mainly due to the efficiency of the transportation sector. The contribution that not having central heating and “flash” water heaters shouldn’t be discounted. We don’t have a 100 or 200 liter reserve of hot water on tap. Instead if the hot water tap is turned on then in about 10 seconds out pours hot water.

In addition to getting the wood I have to cut or split it so I can use it. It takes about about 1 hour to split enough by hand to last one week. I have a hydraulic splitter but it is actually faster to split by hand and there is the extra benefit of getting “free” exercise. Another side benefit is I get to listen to my Ipod which isn’t possible if I have a small gas engine running next to me.
I got this wood not from the mill but from a clear cut site. I went to the mill and for the first time in 7 years was told there is a 6 bundle waiting list. With the price of heating oil so high all the locals have started taking advantage of a hidden treasure right down the road. I have always thought 500 yen for so much wood was a great deal. Ranks right up there with a 100 yen car wash that includes the gas station guy wiping the whole car down after which is available at a local gas station. Last year I ordered 4 bundles in the space of 2 months with no waiting list. In this area it is usually the job of the grandfathers and grandmothers to get, split and stack the wood for the bath. I don’t think any locals use wood for heating the house. It is exclusively used for heating the water for the bath. Frugality at its finest. I would venture a guess most of my neighbors are millionaires in land value. I would also guess the average savings in the bank per household to be in the 10,000,000 yen  range. 1$=108yen=92,500$ more or less. I say that because most things are paid for in cash. Two of my neighbors built big new Japanese style houses in the past 10 years, paid in cash. Still splitting wood by hand to save money. I really respect that attitude.
Back to splitting wood.

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