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Snow and hot water

These are some pictures kindly participated by a client and friend who owns a large knotty hinoki tub. He refurbished a country house in central Italy and is the lucky owner of this unique bath house…

how can I properly comment these pictures?
I come up with this haiku (short japanese poem):

ofuro

samui fuyu ni / kokoro atatameru / kimi no aijo
in the cold winter / warming up my heart / your friendship

Japanese soaking

laminating the planks

In these pictures it is easy to understand how the side walls of a hinoki tub are laminated.
First the material is assorted so that knots or other imperfections get discarded and of course, so that the total width of the planks is equal on the four sides of the tub. This is also a way to optimize the use of the material and avoid loss.
The wood is hand sawn by overlapping 2 planks so that with one single cut two perfecly matching planks are cut.

The pictures show the phase when the planks are drilled and connected with woodes plugs (dabo). The planks are joined with a waterproof bond and kept in the press overnight.
The corner of the tubs are realized with a more complex joint which is sealed by the insertion of hinoki wood bark which acts as a kind of natural gasket. Moreover, this bark has excellent fungicidal property and prevents mold stains in the most vulnerable point (the corners).

tub fitting

What am I doing here!?

Actually, today we showed our material and products to a perspective customer from Germany who is visiting Japan.

It is always a pleasure to have a tea together and exchange thoughts with fellow westerners who share with us passion for japan and fine hand crafts.

We looked at the plans and after some talking, we felt it might be easier just to try one tub, as you would do with a pair of boots. We had an “outlet” tub and the client could enter and get a more direct idea of the size and of the feeling of the tub.
Even a smaller tub seems spacious and comfortable when you try it. No big surprise, the sizes we were recommending actually did fit perfect, anyway after trying the tub the client could feel reassured and move forward without worry.
If you visit Japan, drop by for a tub fitting (if you let us the time we can pick you up at JR Maihama station).

Well, we wanted to show you how it works so I found the good excuse to enter the tub myself…

round tubs for Hakone

These large round tubs were made for a hot spring luxury hotel near Mt. Fuji.
They are so beautiful to look at that I could stay here staring for hours…
Can you imagine how would it be to take a hot bath inside?

Just for your information, round tubs of this size go for 16,000 + per piece, without transportation cost…
On the other end, how much is our physical and mental health worth?
We do not have statistical data but it is known that a relaxing bath a day improves almost all body functions and extend life-span. Additionally it is also believed to improve relations and productivity.

This may be the reasons that made a client comment “In this time of financial uncertainty, a japanese tub is actually the best investment I made. Under all points of view.”

100% natural tub-2

Here is how we are building the 100% natural tub in the traditional way.
The shape most suitable is the “TARU” which is assembled like a barrell with vertical planks of hinoki. The water pressure distributes uniformly on the perimeter and is collected by the stainless steel bands hammered from the bottom up.

The hinoki planks are cut with variable angles so to match eachother seamlessly. Between these we used a natural bond made of rice starch called “SOKOI”. This is 100% natural and does not contain anything but rice and water!

100% natural tub-1

Of course all our tubs are natural: we only use wood and do not treat it with any chemical or coating agent. How can you make a tub which is more natural than a wood tub?
Actually we do use some bond inside the joints of our tubs. We prefer epoxy bond instead of urea based products because it is long lasting and safe for the health.

Anyway this time we received an interesting challenge.
We were required to build a 100% natural tub (actually 2 tubs), without the use of any synthetic material. We had to resort to the knowledge and wisdom of our carpenter`s father who dedicated great passion and almost 3 weeks of work for this project. It was really a great chance for passing down the ancient tecnique (and art) to the younger generations. It was more than 50 years since he last used the this construction method!
Read some more details in the next entry.

Asnaro tub installed in Paris

asnaro-in-paris

Here it is, our tub installed in a landmark attic in the bellybottom of Paris.
The creative decoration of the bathroom with a revisitation of the stone garden theme show how a natural wooden bath can go well both in traditional or contemporary settings.

The floor in iron-wood wraps up to finish the ledge of the tub which is built-in type.
In the large bath area there is also a shower-box and extra long vanity counter.
It looks like I could spend hours in this oasis before ever thinking of getting back to the outside world…

Interior design and realization by:
Espaces Parisiens Planning
37, rue Galilee
75116 Paris – France
tel. 01 40 70 08 47

Central Italy: hot water in the tub II

italian-hot-tub01

Let me report the wise comment of our client (and friend):
“I am confirmed in the belief that Japanese were thousands of years ahead of us westerners: in the age when we were using perfumes to hide our odors and (in the rare occasions we were washing), we were using underwears and busts to hide our body, japanese were…

…bathing.

Naked. Alone or in good company. Clean in the mind and in the body.”
Also in this case, I cannot but agree…!

new product: hiba oil

hiba-oil

We always receive the same question:

Q. How should I maintain/clean the tub?

The answer is always:

  1. Ensure good ventilation in the bathrom.
  2. You may wipe the tub dry after use if you want.
  3. Never use soap or detergent to clean the tub.
  4. Do nothing, just enjoy the tub.
  5. If you find some stains you may remove them with alcohol or other stain remover – only applied on the spot – rub gently and rinse thoroughly.

The tub needs love and care more than maintenance.
If you use it often (preferably daily), keep an eye on the hygrometer and take care of small stains as soon as you spot them, you tub will have a long and happy life.


Anyway, our clients feel this is not enough. They want to do something. They want to be proactive and show concretely their affection for the tub.

Over the years we tried vegetable base detergents, non-oil oils and ecologic cleaners.
They were sticky or just meaningless and we continued to recommend just – pure love – to take care of the tub.


But yes, we finally found a product we can recommend for cleaning and rehidratating the wood. It is an oil base product from the same line as the ones used for aromatherapy.

See our product page for specific information and use instructions.

Japanese people do not use hiba oil for clenaning wooden bathtubs but it has amazing applications in our everyday life. Here below are some detailed information about Hiba oil:

FIELDS OF USE

  1. MEDICAL:
    Hiba oil is used to prevent nosocomial infections, especially those caused by methicillin-resistant Staphylococcus aureus (MRSA).
    It is also used to treat eczema (atopic dermatitis).
  2. SANITARY:
    Hiba oil is used together with Squalane (a natural moisturizing factor) in soap and shampoos particularly indicated for delicate skins.
    Hiba water (a byproduct of the distillation of hiba oil) is used as a fragrance in bathing salts.
  3. AGRICULTURE:
  4. Hiba oil is used to prevent plant diseases originated by mold (wood moulder disease, root rot disease etc.).
    In apiculture is used with good reasult to prevent and fight chalk disease (Ascospharera apis)
  5. FOOD PRESERVATION:
    Hiba oil is used for conservation of fresh (not frozen) melon, strawberry, mushrooms.
    It is also used as a natural flavouring agent for candies and other foods.

PROPERTIES

  1. BACTERICIDAL:
    It prevents conditions for the development of mold and fungi.
    Hiba oil has a wide spectrum of action against many different families of bacteria and is especially effective to fight antibiotic-resistant bacteria.
  2. MIND STABILITY:
    Hiba oil has a proven relaxative qualities. Stress relief has been laboratory tested on Guinea pigs.
  3. INSECTICIDE:
    Hiba oil has an insecticidal action against thermites and cockroaches. It is also used as an insect repellent against fleas and mites.
  4. DEODORANT:
    Hiba oil smoothes strong smells.
    It is specially effective against smells originated by body activity (ammonia, aminoacid base).

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