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Scale-like Leaves: Asnaro

asnaro

Asnaro
I was really excited to find these labeled specimens in the Hokkaido University Botanical Gardens. Only one problem, I’m having trouble distinguishing them, now that I am back at the office. I think this one pictured above is asunaro/asnaro (Thujopsis dolabrata). I really love the scaly configuration of these leaves.

The asunaro is also called hiba. It’s an evergreen tree in the cypress family. This particular specimen was found in Hokkaido so it’s a rarer variation, the Thujopsis dolabrata var. hondai.

Nevertheless this tree grows quite readily across the four islands of Japan in the Thujopsis dolabrata var. dolabrata variety. According to the The International Union for Conservation of Nature’s Red List of Threatened Species this species is stable. It gets an LC (least concern) rating as it is planted in state-controlled forests where it grows well. Read more about hiba-arbor-vitae here on the IUCN Red List.

Hiba Arbor-vitae is an important forest tree in Japan and is one of the ‘five trees of Kiso’ (all are conifers) originally reserved for imperial use. There are now managed state forests with this species as the dominant tree besides some imperial forests. Its light, soft, resinless and durable wood is used in construction, for bridges, buildings, furniture, the wooden basis of lacquer work, wood carving, etc.

 


The choice for your ofuro
As far as ofuro go we recommend asnaro more often than any other wood because of the cost advantage and the durability of this wood. It is harder to damage than say hinoki or sawara. We think you will love it too.

 

Ofuro and Longevity

I am interested in a custom size Ofuro wooden bathtub for the refurbishment of my bathroom in Amsterdam, however I would like to check whether this will be the right solution.

I have read somewhere that the wood dries out and may crack if the Ofuro is not used regularly. Is this correct and if yes, how often at a minimum do you recommend that the Ofuro should be used / filled with water?

The second question is, provided that the Ofuro is taken care of properly, how many years does it typically last before it needs to be replaced?

Thank you very much and kind regards

Thank you for your interest in our Japanese bathtubs!

First question:
We use only hinoki wood from the Kiso Valley – Nagano prefecture (or Asnaro wood from Aomori prefecture) from old growth forests.
Lumber 300+ years old dried with natural ventilation is very stable and will not warp/buckle/crack unless in extreme conditions.
Wood is still a natural material so you understand that it cannot compared with steel or acrylic.

To prevent cracking we ask to respect 3 conditions:
1) do not use heating or air conditioning in the bathroom while the tub is empty (or if you do take some precautions-> see below*)
2) use the tub regularly, at least 2 times a week. Daily use is preferred. (if you are away for extended periods, take some precautions-> see below*)
3) we supply a complimentary hygrometer. Keep an eye on it. (if the relative humidity is below 50%, take some precautions-> see below*)

*) keep some water in the tub and cover it. Alternatively, place a bucket with some water inside in the tub and cover it.
**) if you use the tub daily, you do not need to worry about point 3)

—————————————————————————

Second question:
If properly maintained a wooden tub can last 30 years or more.
In hotels or ryokans (japanese inns), bathtubs are replaced every 10-15 years.
Japanese climate is extremely humid, therefore in our experience tubs installed in Europe do not face some of the problems typical of wooden bathtubs (insurgence of black spots, stains.)

We are looking forward to working with you and remain at you disposal for any question/problem.

ofuro resistance and longevity

I am interested in a custom size Ofuro wooden bathtub for the refurbishment of my bathroom in Amsterdam, however I would like to check whether this will be the right solution.

I have read somewhere that the wood dries out and may crack if the Ofuro is not used regularly. Is this correct and if yes, how often at a minimum do you recommend that the Ofuro should be used / filled with water?

The second question is, provided that the Ofuro is taken care of properly, how many years does it typically last before it needs to be replaced?

Thank you very much and kind regards

Thank you for your interest in our japanese bathtubs!

First question:
We use only hinoki wood from the Kiso Valley – Nagano prefecture (or Asnaro wood from Aomori prefecture) from old growth forests.
Lumber 300+ years old dried with natural ventilation is very stable and will not warp/buckle/crack unless in extreme conditions.
Wood is still a natural material so you understand that it cannot compared with steel or acrylic.

To prevent cracking we ask to respect 3 conditions:
1) do not use heating or air conditioning in the bathroom while the tub is empty (or if you do take some precautions-> see below*)
2) use the tub regularly, at least 2 times a week. Daily use is preferred. (if you are away for extended periods, take some precautions-> see below*)
3) we supply a complimentary hygrometer. Keep an eye on it. (if the relative humidity is below 50%, take some precautions-> see below*)

*) keep some water in the tub and cover it. Alternatively, place a bucket with some water inside in the tub and cover it.
**) if you use the tub daily, you do not need to worry about point 3)

—————————————————————————

Second question:
If properly maintained a wooden tub can last 30 years or more.
In hotels or ryokans (japanese inns), bathtubs are replaced every 10-15 years.
Japanese climate is extremely humid, therefore in our experience tubs installed in Europe do not face some of the problems typical of wooden bathtubs (insurgence of black spots, stains.)

We are looking forward to working with you and remain at you disposal for any question/problem.

asnaro tub for NY

The tub was ordered thru an architect in NY. It is going to be installed in a niche with 25mm clearance on 3 sides. The wall is finished with hand made tiles… I am dying to see the photos of the installation once completed!
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Click more to see additional pictures and the specs of the ofuro.
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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

ofuro for architect in CA

We received the first “information request” in july and immediately replied with a quotation and tub drawings. Then, the client contacted us again in november and we had a tight back and forth mail exchange about the floor slope and how the tub bottom and spout should cope with it.
Then the order was confirmed in december and we completed and shipped the ofuro in january.
The ofuro was punctually received, they opened it for the roughing of the plumbing and repacked it (for 2 months if I understand) until the bathroom construction is complete.

Needless to say that the client is an architect. Very precise, very professional and the plan well structured.
I always recommend to use an architect to streamline your design and the construction process!
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Click on (more…) here below to see the more details and the photos of the accessories.
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ofuro for Cape Town -4- completed!

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This is the second ofuro we are shipping to South Africa in 2016!
In both cases we were in touch with the clients, architects and interior designers for over a year but it was worth it! Take a look also at the pictures of the manufacture phases:
part 1part 2part3

Here is the photo of the back side.
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We created a new type of overflow cut: it is tuck in the back towards the wall and is drawing the water to a gutter running along the wall.
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The spout cover is openable for controlling the built in tap. Not a high tech solution but very practical!
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Here is the layout of the whole composition including a duck-board and bench cut with an angle to match the corner of the bathroom. I am looking forward to seeing the completed space!
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Here are the specs of the project:
Material: Asnaro wood AB grade bathtub (quarter sawn) t42mm
Size: L1500mm x W750 x H670mm (ext. dim.) – depth 543mm
Details: copper apron, wood dowels. Iron brand at front side top-right
Option: overflow top cut
Accessories:
* Ledge and filler: W165 x L1500 x H670) assembly on site
* Bench: W 454/367 x D 515 x H 450mm
* Duckboard: W 521/454 x D 400 x H 55mm
* Asnaro wood ledge mounted spout D with faucet

ofuro for Cape town -1- lumber choice

IMGP8951Today we prepared the lumber for another tub going to South Africa.

The material is asnaro (also known as hiba) wood.
We are currently working on other units so the lamination and assembly work will actually start at the beginning of september and should take about 2 weeks.

IMGP8954You can see some stains. This is not water but natural oil contained in the wood. This is the source of the aroma!
Also, the fact that the plank is blackish is the proof it is well seasoned and fully dry. Of course once planed it will show its white face. It is a very high quality lumber.

IMGP8956You can see the lumber is quarter sawn (parallel wood grain lines) and Mr. Ikeda is optimizing the cuts to mach as much as possible the bent line of the trunk
IMGP8958the sapwood area close to the bark is reduced as much as possible.
IMGP8963finally, this is material to build one ofuro  1500x750mm.

Tanoshimi ni matte kudasai! (Look forward to see it complete!)

ofuro+table for Hamburg

The clients of this ofuro actually visited our showroom in Chiba in november of last year.
With german-like precision every piece of their plan come together as per scheduled and we are now ready to ship this fragrant bathtub and accessories!

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We had to supply a smaller drain socket to comply with the local plumbing regulations (limitation on maximum flow capacity). Also, we raised the base under the tub as required by the plumber to make the connection.

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The tub has the Bartok design brand both on front and back (freestanding layout) and is equipped with floor grating, stool, buckets and a step for easy access/egress from the tub.

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On the client`s requests we also provided a plank that can be used as a table while taking a tub. Because the clients are enthusiastic fan of Japan, I am sure they read books on this table, will use it to place their sake cups, maybe even will have their sushi-dinner while soaking in the ofuro!

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We also provided a coordinated vanity counter (photo here below). They will complement it with faucet and sink: I am looking forward to the pictures of the actual installation!

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finally, here are the specs :

material: natural Japanese Hinoki AB grade bathtub (quarter sawn) t35mm
sizes: L1400mm x W750 x H695mm (ext. dim.) – depth 590mm
details: copper apron, wood dowels. Iron brand on both sides
options:

  • Hinoki wood tray 830x350x21
  • Hinoki wood floor grate panel (1400x450xH55mm) 1pc, (350x350xH120mm) 1pc
  • Complimentary hygrometer
  • Asnaro wood stool (330x220x300H):
  • Sawara wood ladle with handle (180D 290H)
  • Sawara wood large bucket(230D 120H):
  • Hinoki wood for basin counter 1750x600x t35mm (H70 front)

 

ofuro for italian hotel (2)

This is the second tub used in the new “fusion spa” of the  PALAZZO DI VARIGNANA RESORT & SPA near Bologna (Italy)

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It is rightfully labeled “Onsen grande” (large onsen) and rivals in size with the basins used in japanese hot springs.

Here are the specs:

material: knotless asnaro wood from aomori prefecture

size: 1800x1800x H650 mm / top frame border
option: 2 asnaro wood internal seat (fixed) W400mm
This tub can comfortably sit 4 strangers or 6 friends/family members.

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“Panorama view” of the large internal seat. The planks would be too long and unstable if they were removable so we decided to make them fixed.

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The space between the 2 benches. When used only by one or 2 guests, it is possible to sit lengthwise in the deep area.

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accessories include an Asnaro wood floor mounted spout with internal faucet

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This is the full picture of the spout with other accessories such as hinoki wood traditional stool (300x180x200H) and Sawara wood ladles with handle (te-oke).

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