A tree up to 70 or 80 ft high; young shoots furnished with silky hairs when quite young, soon glabrous. Leaves oval to ovate, sometimes rather diamond-shaped, tapered at both ends, but more abruptly towards the base, 2 to 41⁄2 in. long, 1 to 13⁄4 in. wide, clad with silky hairs on both sides when young, glaucous and more or less persistently hairy beneath, veins in ten to fourteen pairs; stalks 1⁄2 to 5⁄8 in. long. Nuts 1⁄2 in. long; involucre little more than half the length of the nut, covered with short, stiff, deltoid appendages; fruit-stalks 1 to 11⁄2 in. long, glabrous.
Native of Japan, where it is less abundant than F. crenata and does not extend into the northern island of Japan (Hokkaido); it is to F. crenata that the colloquial name ‘Japanese beech’ should be applied. F. japonica was introduced in 1907 when it was sent to Kew by Prof. Sargent of the Arnold Arboretum. Its most distinctive characters are: the rather glaucous undersides of the leaves; the long, slender and glabrous fruit-stalk; and the relative shortness of the husk (involucre) compared to the nut.