base knowledge

All about Ofuro Tubs

repulse-bay-ofuro-cloudsBartok design round ofuro in sawara cypress at the Cabana club, Repulse bay, HK

Jon Reyes, from Steam Shower Store wrote this article for Bartok design. Enjoy! —


 

The culture of japanese-style bathing

People have always enjoyed bathtubs and hot tubs as a way to relax and unwind, but more and more, the benefits offered by ofuro tubs are convincing homeowners to consider the possibility of incorporating this holistic Japanese tradition into their daily lives. With a variety of styles to choose from and the possibility of customizing a tub to suit any bathroom, ofuro tubs are a great choice for anyone.

An ofuro tub isn’t about just taking a bath. Traditionally, these Japanese tubs are used after you’ve already cleaned yourself in the shower – no soaps or shampoos should be used in an ofuro tub. Instead, use the tub to enjoy mineral salts or aromatherapy oils after you’re already clean, to experience a deep soak and indulge in a meditative time of contemplation.

These tubs are almost twice as deep as typical North American or European tubs, letting you sink in up to your chin to enjoy a thorough submersion into the soothing hot water. With no overflow tap, these tubs are designed, if anything, to overflow over the top and onto the floor, with a drain system installed underneath. This allows for an all-encompassing soaking experience, to help you truly relax and enjoy the many benefits ofuro tubs can offer.

Ofuro tubs are traditionally made with hinoki wood, and Bartok Design continues this tradition. The hinoki wood features a compact grain and a therapeutic lemony fragrance, which helps users relax and enjoy the natural, holistic experience of using the tub. Bartok Design also offers tubs made with asnaro wood, another traditional Japanese wood which boasts a knotless look and is especially termite resistant.

Tubs are designed to fit any bathroom style – either sueoki or umekomi. Sueoki style design has the tub positioned directly on the floor, letting the natural wood texture be a feature element of your bathroom design. With umekomi style, the tub is recessed into a half-wall or floor, making the wood of the tub less visible from the outside – but still natural and beautiful on the inside. These tubs provide a clean and modern-looking aesthetic, making them well-suited to any bathroom design.

cabana-hk-bartok-ofuro-skyscrapers
a beautiful ofuro and local beauties in Repulse bay – Hong Kong



Benefits of ofuro tubs

Ofuro tubs provide a number of valuable benefits that make them an especially attractive option over a regular bathtub or a hot tub. These benefits can be achieved by a 30 minutes to one hour soak each day, following a cleansing shower. This traditional Japanese style of bathing isn’t about getting clean, it’s about maintaining your health with a beneficial soak.

With the natural feel and scent of the hinoki or asnaro wood, an ofuro tub helps create a zen-like experience for the user. Enjoying a meditative soak will help boost your mental and spiritual wellness, making you feel more refreshed after a long day’s work. This can help reduce fatigue, relieve stress, and clear the mind.

The heat from the tub and the deep submersion work together to stimulate blood circulation, which helps promote a healthy immune system and aids your body in fighting colds or influenza. Sore, tight muscles will benefit from an ofuro tub as well, since the enveloping heat can loosen and relax the body. These benefits will only increase with regular, prolonged use. The ofuro tub is a perfect complement to a healthy lifestyle.

In addition to their many health benefits, ofuro tubs are also easier to care for than typical hot tubs or regular bathtubs. Since the ofuro tub is filled and drained with each use, there’s no need to use chemicals to adjust the water’s pH balance and keep it clean. Instead, you can just fill your tub whenever you want to use it, enjoy a relaxing soak, and drain it easily when you’re done. Since you won’t be using soaps or shampoos in the ofuro tub, you also won’t see any buildup or residue left on the tub after use.

The many benefits of ofuro tubs make them a great addition to any home. At Bartok Design, they are happy to work with their clients to provide a perfect tub to suit your needs, so that you can see for yourself how an ofuro tub can benefit you. From pre-made tubs to custom designs, Bartok Design has an ofuro tub for everyone.


Article by Jon Reyes, from Steam Shower Store. Jon is a specialist writer and has extensive knowledge in everything related to steam showers, saunas and hydrotherapy benefits.

cabana-hk-bartok-bathtub-eat-sun

duty taxes calculation tool

We normally ship our products with DAP conditions.
DAP (Delivered at Place) is an Incoterm that replaced the former term DDU (Delivered Duty Unpaid). DAP transactions require the seller to arrange and pay the transportation of the goods to a place designated by the buyer, and the buyer to pay import duties and taxes on arrival of the goods.

Previously we released a long list of the import taxes for all counties here:
http://bartokdesign.com/9-faqcomment/import_taxes.php

But while the import taxes for wooden products are free (or very low) for most of the countries, please do remember you will also have to pay VAT and may be required to pay other charges (security fees, port fees, inspection fees etc.)

There is a great site that allows you to do the (approximate) calculation of the fees necessary.
duty-calculationhttps://www.dutycalculator.com/
note that “dutycalculator” is a third party not related to us. Bartok design should not be held responsible for any mistake / incongruity in the calculation.
Note that the 1st calculation is free, you will have to purchase a credit if you need to repeat the operation.


Please use the following parameters:
Importing from: Japan
Importing to: (your country)
Shipping method: Freight
Insurance cost: 0 (we already include it in the shipping cost)
Product description: Wooden Bathtub
Product category: Jacuzzis & Spas
HS code: 4421.90


Note:
I wrote about this point several times, why do we use the DAP terms?
Answer:
Our invoice includes all the fees that we can be aware of. Cost of the products, shipping and delivery charges. The local taxes and customs processing fees may vary from case to case (the customs may require an inspection, etc.) so we prefer to keep them separated and having the client paying directly the net amount at the same time as they sign the paperwork for the customs.

If we had to include the taxes in our invoice we would have 2 options:
1) Bill the minimum amount as per our forwarder`s most optimistic calculation and bill you the difference in case the shipment incurred in additional fees.
2) Bill you an amount which takes into consideration the risk for additional fees. This would become more expensive for you.

We think that option 1) is cumbersome and option 2) is unfair, this is the reason why we use the DAP terms.
Please note that we can also ship EX-WORKS terms (you appoint your own forwarder who will take care of the whole shipping process. In this case our invoice will not include any shipping cost.)

Also if you prefer, we can ship to the airport or port CFS terminal (without delivery).
You will appoint a local forwarder to take care of the customs procedures and delivery to site.

Please contact me if this explanation is not clear or for any problem/question.
-> japan@bartokdesign.com

Everything you wanted to know about a japanese ofuro…

Please read the information here below before purchasing a japanese tub.
Also, we recommend to do a {search} within the FAQS for the keywords you are concerned about.

Do not forget to browse the “download area” in the “REFERENCE” section.
It is useful to check the “installation” section in the “DETAILS” menu.

Once you are ready to place your quotation request, go thru the “tub details” section for a thorough step-by step explanation.

You can do your final recap and fill the form in the “how to order” section.

Why are japanese ofuro tubs expensive?

Here are the main reasons:
1) The material is expensive.
2) The craftmanship is expensive.
3) The shipping cost is expensive.
Anyway, we ship directly from the maker to the end user so you can be sure that there is no overhead and you are getting value for every penny spent.

What are the differences between Japanese ofuro and tubs made in the U.S.?

Here are the 3 main differences between US-made tubs and real japanese tubs which make the two products difficult to compare.
1a) almost all US made tubs are coated with urethane. The look is natural but may feel a little cold and hard (like plastic) and have no aroma.
1b) Japanese made tubs are un-coated. You can feel the warmth, aroma and soft touch of wood but if the environment is too humid they may develop mold stains.

2a) US made tubs are assembled as a cabinet (see the corner mitered joint) and often made of finger joint glue-laminated wood.
2b) Japanese tubs are and are built like a boat and are made of solid wide lumber laminated with dowels

3a) US made tubs are made in red cedar, hard woods (like teak) or port-orford cedar (most of the makers call it hinoki – but it is not.) Please note that hinoki usable as construction material grows in Japan and Taiwan only.
3b) Japanese tubs are made with japanese softwoods (hinoki, asnaro, sawara, koyamaki). For flooring or wainscoting we use man planted lumber while for making tubs we use exclusively 250-300 year old trees lumber from primary forests.
Well seasoned wood is very stable but in extreme conditions of dryness it may warp or crack.

is there a warranty against cracks/leaks?

We offer full warranty in case of damage during transportation. (replacement)

For any other problem (cracking etc.) we cannot offer a warranty because of the environmental conditions for which we cannot be responsible.

To avoid cracking we recommend to:
1) use the tub often (everyday is ideal)
2) do not use air conditioning or heaters in the bathroom (may be used while the tub is full). Beware also of centralized air conditioning.
3) in case of the above conditions cannot be met, we recommend to keep a bucket full of water inside the tub. This avoids the insurgence of cracks in most cases.

Until today we supplied over 250 tubs.
We had about 20 reports of cracks or leaks.
In 1 case we replaced the tub.
In 1 case we had the tub shipped back, repaired and have it reinstalled.
In some of the other cases we shipped a kit for repairing the tub (wood color epoxy putty). (Cost is about 3,000 JPY inclusive of shipping fee)
In most cases we supplied advice and the tub could be seamlessly repaired by the user.

With the assumption that all the customers who experienced a crack contacted us (but there may be some exceptions), about 10% of the tubs had crack problems (including tubs 10+ year old).
On the other hand, 90% of the tubs did not experience cracks.
I would say that in 90% of the cases the tubs are used as directed and the environmental conditions are met.

Can a cracked wooden tub be repaired?

To repair a cracked wooden tub (we often supply this advise to customers who own wooden tubs from other makers) use the following guideline.
1) small crack, no leak: just fill the tub and let is rehydrate overnight. As the wood swells back the crack should be completely reabsorbed.

2) small crack with leak: place inside the tub newspaper pages spread over the crack area (be sure not to use a newspaper printed with petroleum based ink). Then fill the tub. The newspaper does not let the water thru but transfers the humidity to the wood. Proceed as 1) above .

3) medium crack with leak: fill the crack in its deepest area with clear silicon caulking and let dry for 24 hours. Then fill the tub and keep the water inside for 1-2 days, The wood should swell back and a part of the silicon has probably been squeezed out.
You can cut the excess of silicon with a cutter.

4) large crack or asymmetrical crack (triangular shaped): in this case the wood not only cracked but warped as well. Even if re-hydrated it will not return to its position completely. In this case you should fill the crack with epoxy putty (we can supply) + sand to make the surface even and make the repair invisible as much as possible.
This crack happens often when the client uses air-conditioning or heating equipment and as a countermeasure keeps some water inside the tub. This precaution is of course very important BUT please understand that it cannot guarantee 100% that also the external side of the wood planks will be sufficiently hydrated.

Can I contact your past clients to have their opinion?

I am afraid it is not possible.
As most of our clients are private users, it is our policy not to use them as a reference.
Arranging a meeting between an old customer and a perspective client may be time consuming, may be invasive of the privacy and we just have not the structure to be able to take responsibility for any trouble or miscommunication.
As we cannot be on site to manage the situation, we cannot refer past clients and we make no exception to this policy.
Thank you for your understanding.

Information package

1)Production and shipping time:
All our tubs are made in Japan by a skilled 4th generation craftsman. The standard production queue is about 15days . For the shipping and delivery consider + 30 days (ocean freight) or + 10 days (airfreight) for most world locations.

2) Payment contitions:
Invoices and payments will be Japanese Yen. This is to avoid overcharges to our clients due to currency exchange fluctuation risk. A prepayment of 50% of the custom items will be needed before starting production. Once the products are ready, we will send pictures for verification/approval and will require the payment of the reminder before proceeding with shipment. A Bank wire transfer is the most common option. Credit cards are accepted (thru Paypal). Checks are not available. For larger orders a Letter of Credit can be taken into consideration.

3) Shipping cost:
we will need the exact shipping address to be able to obtain the quote from our forwarder (Naigai Forwarding Co.)
We use DDU (Delivered, Duties Unpaid) conditions unless the client requires a different arrangement. Cost varies greatly according to size, country, delivery location. You are welcome to use your local forwarder for the shipment.

4)Installation recommendation:
In case of humid climates, we recommend to leave enough room under the tub to allow air circulation (about 10cm).
For dry climates, avoid direct sunlight exposure and abrupt temperature changes – especially when the tub is empty.

5)Maintenance recommendation:
Please refer also to the FAQ on our homepage and the “Japanese ofuro maintenance tips” notes.
Provide a satisfactory ventilation for the bathroom (natural air circulation with cross ventilation is the best), anyway avoid use of air conditioning in the bathroom, especially when it is empty and not in use. A A/C can dry up the natural humidity of the wood in a matter of few days…!
As soap, detergents and dirt are responsible for the insurgence of mold and fungi, we recommend not to use soap inside the tub, and to wipe it after use with a soft sponge or towel.
Unless otherwise specified, we apply one layer of “Kihada Ichiban” which is an hydrorepellent treatment, based on the nanotechnology. It does not create a coat, it actually penetrates inside offering lasting protection whithout occluding the pores of wood.

6) Installation: the tub should sit on 4 concrete blocks or bricks placed at the perimeter (corners) of the tub. Supports are not needed in the center. This detail allows for air circulation under the tub while preserving the wood from prolonged direct exposure to water.

7) Recommended sanitary fixtures:
Water fixtures can be installed on the wall (directing the water into the tub), on the floor (long hook type), on the tub ledge or thru a spout. In the first two cases, you do not need any interaction with the tubs and can choose the taps freely (Philip Stark design taps for instance are a common choice). In the 3rd case (on tub ledge) the issue
is similar to the first two as you can open a hole where needed in top ledge as it is all solid wood. In case you consider using of a wooden spout, please let me know and I will explain you the options.

8) Certifications:
We can provide declarations stating the origin and quality of the wood.
If you need an official “certificate of origin” from the japanese chamber of commerce or a “phytosanitary certificate” from third party laboratory it may be available at a cost.

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