The almost religious reverence for wood is a tradition that has withstood the test of time. A tree exists in harmony with other natural phenomena and is believed to possess a spirit. Before laying saw to a standing tree, Japanese master carpenters recite a prayer, "I vow to commit no act that will extinguish the life of this tree." When a carpenter cuts down a tree, he incurs a moral debt and must put the tree to uses that assure its continued existence – preferably as a thing of beauty to be treasured for centuries. By maintaining this pledge the carpenter repays this debt to nature.
– 'The Genius of Japanese Carpentry'