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certifications 1

I visited your website. I really like the look and healing properties of your tubs. And, the craftsmanship seems outstanding.
After reading about the hinoki wood and the few places it can be found, I was curious if the hinoki wood you are using is farmed or old wood.
Is there concern about depleting it? Here in the Northwest United States much of our cedar is gone — to the point of great environmental concern.
I know Japan is protecting its forests as well. I’m curious about the current situation with the hinoki species.

We use both cultivated and natural wood. It depends on the type of project, size, quantity etc.
In any case, all the wood comes from sustainably managed areas, some are FSC certified (FSC tands for Forest Stewardship Council).
Hinoki is a coniferous tree and the growth takes about 20-25 years before being commecially exploitable. Farmed wood has the advantage of having few or no thru knots for an optimized usage of the material.
Japanese farmed coniferous wood is a story with lights and shadows.
Back in the 60`s and 70`s, millions of acres of mixed aboriginal woodland has been destroyed to make space for the more commecially exploitable farmed wood for construction.
To add insult to injury, during the 1990`s a weak dollar promoted imports of cheap 2×4 material from Canada, so that japan forestry entered a deep crysis.
After overproduction caused a drop in price, many forested areas ceased to be maintained or were abandoned all-together.
This created a new problem: man-made monocultured-crop forests are not stable ecosystem and the lack of maintenance causes landslides and other disasters.
The bottomline is that there is no point in crying over the poured milk: now the only thing we can do is to use this overstocked farmed wood to bring some relief to the mountain problems and maybe end up saving also some north american cedar forest (or what is left.)

construction 4

May I ask why the corners of your tubs are ‘T’ shaped? Can you make mitred joints?

While hinoki is impermeable when cut parallel to the wood grain, transversal sections are 6~8 times more vulnerable to water infiltration.
The traditional joint allows for full coverage of the plank head. Also, plugs and SUS screws can be inserted deeply in the joining plank, making the tub extremely solid and durable.

No, we will not make 45° mitered cuts. It is a weaker joint and is not a proper detail for a hinoki tub. I wish that tubs with mitered corners were not misleadingly called “Japanese tub”…

UPDATE 2008/06/20
We developed a model of tub which retain the constructive traditional details while providing an clean “minimalistic look”. This was achieved with thicker wall planks. See also the examples below:
http://www.bartokdesign.com/7-custom_ofuro/hinoki_tub_for_surrey_2.php
http://www.bartokdesign.com/7-custom_ofuro/hinoki_tub_for_manhattan.php

construction 3

Is it possible to have the bath fabricated from Teak wood? If not..which wood that you use wood look good next to teak..perhaps with a stain to bring the wood darker and closer to the Teak?

Our company is specialized in japanese hinoki wood and other softwoods of the cypress family such as sawara or asnaro-hiba. We will not build a tub in teak or any other imported hardwood.

If a tub should ever be built in teak, it should be uretan coated as it would produce an unpleasing smell and anyway it has not therapeutic properties.

About staining hinoki: again, one of the main points of having a japanese wood tub built is the aroma and the natural feeling of untreated wood. By using a stain, these 2 elements would be spoiled.

construction 2

Do hinoki wood tubs leak?

Hinoki tubs do not leak but may weep when the water is kept inside for a long time or due to condensation. Waterproofing of the floor is not required, but recommended. Anyway I would suggest to use materials such as stone or tiles under the tub.

repairing a hump in the wood

The tub was delivered yesterday.
Thank you ever so much for everything again.
We, however, made a few mistakes and I would like therefore to ask you for some additional advice.
First of all, we forgot to read the paper attached to the plastic cover of the tub (we were so excited, like little kids, to open our present !!!), we realised afterwards that we should have left it wrapped in, since the bathroom is not yet ready. What should we do (humidity level, dust etc.) ?
Also, there was a small accident while opening the crate. The damage I mentioned to you on the phone was only on the crate, and there was no trace of damage on the tub itself, so that is resolved. However, we used a hammer to loosen the side boards of the crate, and the hammer must have rebounced and hit the top edge of the tub on both sides, at the height of the brand. I’ll send you the pictures when I get them on my computer from my neighbour. That means that we will probably have to sand down the whole top of the tub all around to make the marks disappear. Is that the right thing to do ? Are there special instruction for that matter as far as making the slanted edge, and/or treating the wood once sanded ? Is the wood treated, or is it only treated at the bottom ?
Everything would have been perfect, were it not for our impatience and uneducated use of that hammer…
With my warmest regards,

Please note:
1) for the plastic wrap, if it is still usable, wrap again the tub and use generously wide tape to seal the openings
If the wrap is badly damaged, you should get some new one from a home center. Close with tape.

2) For the hammer marks: I will need to see the pictures.
Wood swells when it is wet and there is the possibility that it slightly returns back if you blot it with a wet cloth (not just dump, make it dripping wet) or by pouring water on it for at least 1 hour.
If the wood is not returning, you can apply the dump cloth on the damaged area and press it with an iron (cotton-high temperature, apply intermittently for few seconds).

A third option is to sand it. The wood is not treated (excepted for for the bottom plank head). I think you should be able to sand only the faces which are damaged and not the whole top.
The corner fillet (mentori) should be made with a hand plane but this tool is difficult to use. You may employ a sander but be aware that the corner will become roundish instead.

maintenance 3

Which is the optimal humidity level for a wood tub? Can I use one for outdoors?

You should pay attention to the following:
The wood is a natural material and is well preserved in a balanced environment. A moisture percentage of 50% is recommended.

  • If there is scarce ventilation and the humidity is often over 70% your tub is likely to develop mold stains (which can quite easily be removed)
  • On the other hand, if the environment is too dry (below 40% relative humidity) the tub may crack and cause leakings.

The dryness effects can be mitigated by using the tub daily or leaving it full of water when you leave home for longer periods. Dryness is harmful for wood. Avoid direct and prolonged sunlight exposure and if you have heating system in the bathroom, keep an eye on the hygrometer.

Yes, you can install the tub outdoors, but please avoid as much as possible direct sunlight exposure, expecially when the tub is empty.

maintenance 2

Are your japanese hinoki bath tubs mold resistant? How do I clean it?

Hinoki wood has a unique natural protection against rot, mold and fungi, but you should use some common sense. If the bathroom is not ventilated or if you leave the bathtub full of cold water on a daily base, some stains may appear overtime. No need to worry. Just pour abundant warm water on the area until well absorbed by the wood. Then wipe gently with a cloth sprayed with alcohol for disinfection. The stain will disappear completely.

ADDED 2009.04.22
For toughter stains you can use -wisely- also some bleach for clothes. Wash abundantly with water after application.

maintenance 1

How long can I leave the water inside the tub? Do I need to dry it after each use?

The water should be removed when all the members of your family enjoyed their bath. Of course you can leave the water inside until the next day but unless you live in a very dry area, leaving water all the time of course can facilitate the insurgence of some mold stains.

Anyway, best practice is to empty the tub everiday (or at least twice a week if you have a recirculation system), quickly wipe the bathtub with a towel to remove the excess water. Then ensure there is a good natural ventilation (a bathroom with a vindow is strongly recommended) so the wood can adjust automatically its degree of humidity.

order and payment 3

What kind of payment schedule is common for the purchase?

Every tub is made to order. We will require a 50% deposit (made by wire transfer to our bank in Japan) to confirm the order. The 50% is calculated on the price of custom made items. Within 30 days we will build the tub and send you by email the photographs of the complete tub / accessories.
Then we will require the balance 50% payment + packing charge + accessories if any (es. bucket, chair…) + transportation charge, as it was shown on the quote.
If you prefer you can use a forwarder you know and we will omit the shipping expenses.

order and payment 2

Is the cost inclusive of transportation?

Yes. Each personalized quote includes pick-up in Japan, freight, terminal charges and delivery up to your door (unless you specify otherwise).
The price may not include sales taxes. In most cases you (the coinsignee) will have to fill in a customs application (it can be done by fax) which costs 200-250 US$ and includes sales tax. You will not have to pay any other charge.

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