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hinoki ofuro in the fuji TV morning news

a beautiful japanese ofuro. Who`s taking a bath here?
and, what is the cameraman doing with my hinoki bathtubs … ?

Last week I was interviewed for fuji television, the media coverage of the “new wave of the japanese bathing culture” is rising … and there I am in the spotlight again 🙂 !

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they filmed in high vision the grain of our beautiful kiso valley hinoki.
Ikeda san was not so happy about entereing in the ofuro together…
But the hinoki fragrance made him relax almost instantly

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The VTR will be broadcasted on 4/25 in the morning news on Fuji television (national programming) and will also contain an interview with a client from L.A.
I will keep you posted!

Hinoki Ofuro for Upstate NY

It sounds like a sweet match: a cabin in the Adirondack mountains and a japanese
soaking tub…
According to the client, the bathroom will have a traditional Japanese washing station and the tub will be free standing with water able to spill over all 4 sides.
We first made a quotation for this project about 6 months before and were pleased to be contacted again, as the sitework is progressing and reaching its final stages..

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Hinoki wood tub AB grade (quartersawn) / L shaped corners
Dimensions are: L1400mm x W750mm x H640mm (ext. dim.) 550mm (deep) .
The bottom of the tub is finished with natural oil and the joints are realized with wooden dowels.
Accessories include an internal removable seat and traditional wood cover.

The corner joint is made in such a way that the water cannot reach the head of the planks (cut perpendicular to the wood veins) which is more vulnerable to water.

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And here is the detail of the cover planks.

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hinoki ofuro published in magazine

The house of a client in Switzerland will be published in an architectural magazine and – yes – the japanese hinoki bathtub also received a nice shot!

I am looking forward to browsing the actual magazine!

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“optimized” hinoki outet ofuro (sold out)

* * * sorry, sold out * * *

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This tub is made with fine grain rare hinoki wood.
We could assemble some smaller planks we had in stock thus optimizing the use of the material.
Here are the details:
SIZE: L1300mm x W750mm x H640mm (external
dimensions) 560mm(depth) knotless natural Hinoki bathtub.
1) AB grade tub (quarter sawn) : 525,000. JPY
2) Packaging: 1650x850x920 wood box: 36,000. JPY
3) Shipment: please let us know exact address for a quotation.
(both air freight and sea freight so you can compare)
(Use Paypal or contact us for wire transfer to our bank account in Japan.)
download the drawing in acrobat format: outlet091209.pdf
IMGP2541.jpgimmaculate interior side.

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back side

a happy ofuro

Thanks to J. from studioshamshiri for the beautiful photo (© stephenkentjohnson)
The interior, lighting and atmosphere just makes me scream of joy!
sooo beautiful! I am sure also our ofuro (Knotless Hinoki wood AB grade
L1600mm x W800mm x H600mm / 540mm(deep) and duckboard are very happy ☆彡
follow the studioshamshiri instagram account for more breathtaking interior photos or contact them if you like to live in a beautiful space.

SHAMSHIRI
6540 Sunset Blvd Los Angeles CA 90028
tel. 323 601 1007 x 706
http://studioshamshiri.com

hinokitiol Vs. COVID-19

hinokitiol is a natural extract of asnaro-hiba wood with strong antimicrobial performance. It has been proved effective in treating penicillin-resistant streptococci and is used as a component for disinfectants, cosmetics, scalp and acne treatments etc.

It can be diluted in water and vaporized in the air: it lasts much longer than other volatile substances like alcohol.
It has been used as a local and ambient disinfectant and insect repellent.

☆☆☆☆☆☆☆☆☆☆☆☆☆☆☆☆☆☆☆☆☆☆☆☆☆☆☆☆☆☆☆☆☆☆☆☆
Can It be helpful in inhibiting or treating the COVID-19?
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I do not know.

But I can supply it !
(because it is a by-product of my manufacture of Japanese cedar wood products, mainly Japanese ofuro bathtubs).

☆☆☆☆☆☆☆☆☆☆☆☆☆☆☆☆☆☆☆☆☆☆☆☆☆☆☆☆☆☆☆☆☆☆☆☆
I offer to send samples of hinokitiol to research institutes in case they are interested in testing it against the COVID-19 virus.

Please contact me and let me know the address and contact person information for the shipping. I will send 1g via airmail.
Product and shipping cost is on me.
☆☆☆☆☆☆☆☆☆☆☆☆☆☆☆☆☆☆☆☆☆☆☆☆☆☆☆☆☆☆☆☆☆☆☆☆

For more information check this page:
https://bartokdesign.com/?s=hinokitiol

  As of march, 17 2020 I already shipped a sample to:

1) Dr. Raymond Goodrich
Colorado State University’s Infectious Disease Research Center - USA

2) Dr. Maurizio Cecconi
Humanitas University - Milano - Italy

3) Mr. Joseph Payne
Arcturus Therapeutics - Torrey Pines Mesa - La Jolla - USA

4) Dr. Brooke Fiala
Washington’s Institute for Protein Design, Seattle - USA

5) Dr. Chen Katz  
Migal Galilee Research Institute, Qiryat Shemona - Israel

I do not have personal contacts within the 9 large companies who have been largely publicized on the media (nor I have big sympathy for large corporations) .
Anyway if you know some researcher who is worthy, please let me know!)

・ Inovio (USA)
・ Cure- Vac (Germany)
・ Gilead Sciences Inc.  (USA)
・ GlaxoSmithKline   (USA)
・ Johnson & Johnson   (USA)
・ Moderna Inc.   (USA)
・ Regeneron Pharmaceuticals Inc. (USA)
・ Sanofi (USA)
・ Vir Biotechnology Inc. (USA)

Anybody else you think could use the natural hinokitiol to help defeat the virus?

ofuro details page

We are ready to proceed with the tub but have a few more questions. Does it need a copper apron? What’s the iron for? What are the dowels? Will it survive out doors in NYC Acid rain etc?

Please note:
1) apron:
https://bartokdesign.com/5-tub_details/hinoki_bath_details_shape_and.php

we can provide both copper apron and oil treatment for the tub bottom.
Copper makes it very resilient also as per the english saying…
https://www.phrases.org.uk/meanings/copper-bottomed.html

2) iron brand:
This is our logomark applied with a hot-seal.
https://bartokdesign.com/5-tub_details/hinoki_bath_details_drain_and.php
If you prefer we can omit it.

3) dowels:
they are wood pegs to conceal the stainless steel screws that reinforce the corners.
https://bartokdesign.com/5-tub_details/hinoki_bath_details_drain_and.php

4) outdoors use:
please purchase a custom made thermal cover in the US.
The ofuro needs to be protected while not in use not just from the acid rain but especially from direct sunlight exposure.
When the ofuro is full of water there is no problem, but while it is empty it is vulnerable to dehydration which may lead to dryness damage and cracks.

Please refer to the INFO -> DETAILS AND OPTIONS menu for a comprehensive list of our standard details and feel free to contact me for any other question or problem.

Sustainability and the Japanese ofuro bathtub

Hinoki forest of Japan
The great hinoki forests of Japan’s Kiso Valley

In a world where it is as easy as a click of a button to start the process of a bathroom renovation, it’s equally easy to overlook where the products you’re using were sourced from and where the products you will dispose of actually end up.

It’s important to us that you know your Bartok design, wooden Japanese bathtub comes from sustainable resources and is ultimately a biodegradable item at the end of its lifecycle.

Japan is only a small country, roughly the size of the state of California. With its huge population of 120 million people, would it surprise you to learn that Japan is almost 70% covered in trees?

With such massive forests and few other natural resources, it is no surprise that trees and the wood they provide have an important place in history. Wood is the main building material used in the construction of houses, buildings and religious buildings such as temples.

Historically the five trees of Kiso were most prized. Hinoki, the king of trees, was reserved for use by nobility. Whole mountains were claimed as the property of feudal leaders and of temples in order that the wood needed for new construction and repairs would always be available.  

Starting in 1600s Japan began to view theses natural resources as worth caring for and conserving, mainly at the behest of a conservation-minded feudal lord. Huge swathes of forest were designated as national parks and native species came under the protection of the lord (with severe penalties for illegal felling or even gathering wood from the forests).

We note that this is way ahead of other civilisations!

Wood remains an important material in Japan and is also viewed globally as being a sustainable material. 

Of course, there is an economic motivation behind this as well as a conservation perspective. In any country, forests provide a source of income for rural areas. Our operation at Bartok design is made up of several smaller companies each taking a role in bringing your bath to you. Your purchase enables us to continue supporting our local artisans and craftsmen.

The hinoki (and other native wood) we use in the construction of our Japanese soaking tubs is generally from ancient forests. The trees are between 250 to 300 years old. Understandably we need to be careful not to overuse these ancient woods so we trust our lumberyard partners to abide by the regulations that govern the use of this wood. In most cases, as part of a healthy forest management program trees of this age either fall naturally or are part of the cull to ensure the maximum health of the surrounding trees and healthy undergrowth, which contributes to overall biodiversity in the forest.

Trees prevent soil erosion and landslides. Trees help maintain a clean supply of water, sequester carbon and produce oxygen. It’s been said that an initiative to plant just 10 million trees on earth would offset global warming in a major way.

We recognise the role wood manufacturers that play. Governing bodies accept the responsibility they have in offsetting climate change and global warming but at the same time, without a market for the wood that is grown, it’s hard to convince the private sector to take part.

When you buy a genuine Japanese wooden ofuro you can rest assured that the wood has been sustainably managed over its growing period, right through to how it was harvested and processed.

You are adding a thing of beauty to your home and are adding one less chemically derived product to the world. Bartok design ofuro are not varnished or lacquered so we do not use any unnecessary chemicals in the manufacturing process. Your ofuro will continue to breathe in your home, absorbing moisture and toxins from the air. Read more about our wood here.

Properly cared for your bath will last ten, twenty or even thirty years. When you’re finished with it you can safely recycle it into firewood or feed the pieces into a wood chipper to create mulch for your garden. The whole bath could become a planter for herbs in your garden. It’s a full circle environmentally safe product.

If sustainability is important to you then get in touch today to start designing your wooden ofuro soaking tub.

The Melody of Hinoki as told by an American Guitar Maker in Japan

When we came across an American guitar maker, living in Japan, using native Japanese wood to make guitars, we knew we had to get in touch! Stephen Faulk of Stephen Faulk Guitars kindly answered our questions and shared his story, along with these photos. I know he would love to hear from you if you enjoy this article. I’ll add all the links at the end.

Stephen Faulk Hinoki and Cedar Guitar

We asked Stephen about the merits of Japanese hinoki for musical instruments.

Hinoki is similar to the wood traditionally used in Spain to build guitars, Mediterranean Cypress. Hinoki is in the cypress family and it also related to The Lawson Cypress on the West Coast of North America. I’ve found that the Hinoki is a good wood to make traditional Spanish guitars with as it shares many good qualities with the cypress that was used in Spain during the 19th century to develop the modern guitar. The Cypress family woods often give a more ‘dry’ character to the sound.  Cypress woods were used in Spain not only because of the availability and cost as a local resource but also because it produces a sound slightly different than the rosewoods and other precious hardwoods used to make guitars

When I first learned that I could find Hinoki in the lumber yards in Japan that had similar qualities to cypresses form the Mediterranean area I was very excited. I had known about Hinoki for many years, but it’s not readily available in California where I began making guitars.

The cypress makes excellent ‘classical’ guitars which are a modern variant of the traditional Spanish guitar. Before about the mid-20th century there was no distinction between the classical guitar and the flamenco guitar, both instruments were virtually interchangeable. Later as classical guitar playing emerged as an art form separate from flamenco, Spanish folk music and other kinds of guitar music, the darker rosewoods came to be favored by the makers and the musicians.

However, the appeal of the dry sound of cypress never went away and stayed popular with flamenco guitarists and other musicians. Today the cypress guitar is seeing a bit of a comeback as a wood used for classical guitar construction due to changing tastes.  Musicians are now more aware of the tradition of using Cypresses in guitar construction in Spain when the ‘Torres’ style guitar developed.

I use hinoki in the same way I use the traditional cypresses I buy from European, Mexican or American suppliers, but I like it also because it is locally sourced. I have made many guitars with the rosewoods, but as a maker my personal taste is to make ‘blonde’ classical guitars.’Blonde’ guitars that are not made with dark rosewoods. Of course, I do make rosewood guitars, but make more guitars with lighter woods like Maple, Cypress, Hinoki and Lawson Cypress than most makers today.

The hinoki is a good guitar wood because it has the attributes that the late 19th-century Spanish makers liked about cypress. It’s lightweight and low density, which encourages vital resonance in the guitar. In general, it creates a warm dry sound and the sustain is crisp. It makes guitars that are good for playing dense richly harmonized music like Bach. Since the hardness and density of wood varies from region to region and tree to tree, I select the best Hinoki for guitar making by making sure it is not too soft. I like a board of hinoki that it difficult to drive your thumbnail into, hard medium dense Hinoki makes fantastic guitars.

I use hinoki to construct the backs and sides of the guitar, like the old Spanish makers.  I use either spruce or cedar for the top of the guitar. The neck is made Cuban Cedar or Cedrella which is usually from Central America and must be specially imported. The hinoki boards I select must be carefully cut by a skilled sawyer, with a big band saw. I work with them to ensure the wood is properly quartersawn for guitar use.

Q. Do you use any other native Japanese woods?

Yes, I fact I do use Red Oak from Kyushu to make some of my specialized guitar maker tools like binding cutters and ‘violin makers’ knives. Many tools used in the art and craft of making musical instrument must be made by the luthiers themselves, usually after their teacher shows them the tools and says your assignment is to construct your own set of special tools and knives! Of course, today may things can be purchased online in specialty shops but when I began this was not as possible as it is today. I had to begin by making most of my guitar specific tools.

A tool made of Kyushu Red Oak, the tool is a binding channel cutter.
A tool made of Kyushu Red Oak, the tool is a binding channel cutter.
A tool made of Kyushu Red Oak, the tool is a binding channel cutter.
A tool made of Kyushu Red Oak, the tool is a binding channel cutter.

I like Kyushu Red Oak because it’s hard enough to be durable for life and it’s also smooth and doesn’t mar the work. This kind of oak is also used to make martial arts weapons for Okinawan karate. I’m interested in native woods for guitar making too, such as Keyaki and Sakura. I’ve made a beautiful guitar about of 90-year-old Persimmon that I took from an old broken tansu.

Sakura is a fruitwood and used to be common in European instruments from the late middle ages to the baroque era, often used as bridges on lutes and guitars, but also for pegs and fingerboards. I have used Kagoshima Sakura wood for bridges on my guitars. It’s a wonderful bridge wood, and would make great guitars if you can find a tree big enough that needs to be cut down.

Career as a guitar maker

My instrument construction training began when I was in high school. I played the cello in the school orchestra and also played the guitar. When it happened that my cello needed some repairs the band teacher sent me to Mr Tenney who was a violin repairer and bowmaker in Redlands California. I took my cello over to his shop to have a crack fixed and to get new strings and I was hooked within five minutes of entering the shop with all the activity going on there. On one wall there was an enormous painting by a Spanish artist who lived in France in the 1840’s called Narcisse Diaz de la Pena, he is well known, under the painting was a Beethoven era piano built in the 1820’s and on the top of the closed piano were five or six Italian violins laying on a small Persian rug.

There were violin bows being made and old master paintings being restored and antique furniture everywhere. Mr Tenney and his wife owned an antique shop, which his wife Betty ran. Mr Tenney employed me after school to move antiques, clean the shop and to strip and refinish furniture. Soon he let me help him do instrument repair work, learn more about woodworking tools and try to build some instruments myself. I built some cello and bass bows and learned a great deal about paintings antiques, architecture and violin making in his workshop. I worked for the Tenney’s for about three years and then I went to college to study. I remained friends with the Tenney’s over the next 25 years visiting them often.

I went to college at the San Francisco Art Institute and graduated with a degree in sculpture. After that program, I was accepted into the Graduate Studies Art Dept at Mills College in Oakland California. I finished the master’s degree course in studio art and art history. After the time in the academic setting, I wanted to make instruments and work on a career in visual arts.

In 1997 I began to study under two instrument makers in the San  Francisco area, one was Eugene Clark a notable guitar maker who was thought highly of in the classical/flamenco guitar world for his depth of knowledge of traditional Spanish guitar making concepts. And the other was historical Lute maker Mel Wong, who is still active in San Francisco. Unfortunately, Gene Clark died a few years ago. I worked and studied concurrently with Mel and Gene for two years going back and forth between their shops doing projects, learning about guitar and lute repair and construction. After that time I opened a small workshop of my own in Oakland CA. In 2006 and 2011 I did a year of additional training on steel string guitar repair with Stewart Port who is master guitar repairman in Oakland CA who specializes in rare and vintage steel string guitars. I had my own guitar making shop open at that time and Stewart Port and I are both former students of Eugene Clark.

I maintained a guitar repair and building shop in Oakland until 2013 when I moved to Japan with my wife who is native Japanese. We met in CA where she had lived for many years. She works in the graphic design business and does bilingual Japanese/English web design as a freelancer. The move was prompted by the unfortunate death of her mother in 2012. We came to Akune in Kagoshima to help her dad and keep him company. I moved my guitar making shop to Akune into a former salt supply warehouse and began making guitars for my remaining US customers.

Current Projects

Final thoughts: We have to ask – Are there any onsen in your area? Hinoki ofuro?
In Akune, where we live, there is a tradition of putting Bontan, a locally grown type of giant Pomelo citrus in the baths. It makes the room fragrant.

There was an onsen here that had a hinoki tub, but they had to close down two years ago.

Akune also has a natural saltwater geothermal onsen!

Thank you so much, Stephen, for your detailed comments and for sharing your passion for wood and guitar building so openly. If anyone wants to reach Stephen you can contact him via his website Stephen Faulk Guitars and make sure you take a look at his Japanese persimmon guitar on YouTube.

The King of Trees: Hinoki

hinoki

In this series of posts I will share some information about the different trees and woods used in manufacturing our beautiful ofuro bathtubs. This photo was taken in the Hokkaido University Botanical Gardens. It’s hinoki, the king of forest in Japan.

Why the king of forest?
In feudal times in ancient Japan, five beautiful and majestic trees were planted and selected as the most valuable. Known as the “Five Trees of Kiso,” they are Chamaecyparis obtusa, Chamaecyparis pisifera, Sciadopitys verticillata, Thuja standishii, Thujopsis dolabrata.

from Shade and Ornamental Trees: Their Origin and History by Hui-Lin Li

As hinoki trees suffer in polluted environments, they grow mainly in areas where the air and water are pure. Aomori and Ishikawa in the north, Gifu Prefecture, the Kiso Valley in the Chubu district and Kochi Prefecture in Shikoku are the regions with the largest hinoki forests.

This “purity” is reflected in the wood’s appearance: it is light-colored and has a compact straight grain. A natural clear resin permeates the pores homogeneously thus creating natural protection against insects and rot. When cut or scrubbed, hinoki wood emanates a pleasing lemon scent for which it is famous.

This excerpt was taken from the Akasawa Recreation Forest website:

The hinoki, Japanese cypress (Chamaecyparis obtusa) trees native to the Kiso Valley have been renowned for centuries. Kiso’s timber resources were highly prized by Toyotomi Hideyoshi* himself, who made the Kiso Valley a fief under his direct control and used timber from its Japanese cypresses and other trees when constructing castles**.

*Toyotomi Hideyoshi was a Japanese Leader in the 16th century.

**Osaka Castle was one such castle, constructed from hinoki, although the current structure is a concrete & steel replica replacing the original which was destroyed by fire.

As castle towns prospered during the Edo period, from the 17th century, a great many trees were cut down on Kiso’s hillsides. Kiso’s mountains were left so desolate as a result that, fearing for the few remaining trees, the rulers of the Owari Domain issued a harsh proclamation: “one tree, one head.” The threat of capital punishment meant that Kiso’s trees began to be protected. As a result, the Kiso Valley once more boasts dense natural forests on its rejuvenated hillsides.

From the latter part of the 19th century, the majority of Kiso’s mountains were covered in “Goryorin” forests that were the property of the Imperial Family.

After WWII, the area began to be managed as National Forests.

In 1970, parts of the Kiso Valley forests were designated as Recreation Forests. Akasawa Forest, the first Recreation Forest, is the birthplace of “shinrin-yoku” or forest bathing.


Current Situation: Sustainable Wood Product?
Our hinoki wood is sourced from Kiso Valley, Nagano. We use wood from mature trees, between 250 – 300 years old. In Kiso Valley, a sustainability plan is in place to authorize tree felling.

A healthy forest is managed to give each tree optimum chances of growing strong. Trees that would die naturally are selected first for cutting. The forests of Japan play an important role in the natural ecosystem by setting down deep roots, preventing landslides and soil erosion. The forests are also a natural habitat for many species of animals, birds and insects. And of course, forests purify our air by absorbing carbon dioxide and help reduce greenhouse gas emissions.

At the same time, the forest is a source of income for the local rural areas and provides employment for those involved in forest management and manufacture of wood products and construction. Wood is a renewable resource. It can be grown and managed sustainably.

We believe that with careful consideration for the current and future generations, these can co-exist favourably.

The Wood of the Hinoki Tree
Easily the most beautiful wood in the world, the wood of the hinoki tree is smooth, very light but very strong. The grain is very straight and it is a delicate soft pale wood color, sometimes ever so slightly pink-tinged. The scent is woodsy but often described as lemony. It is a very grounding scent. When hot water is poured onto hinoki (or when you fill your hinoki bath) the scent will intensify. The scent of hinoki essential oil is calming and relaxing. It may help with respiration problems and act as a decongestant.


Hinoki means literally “tree of fire” as it was used to spark a fire in ancient times, thanks to its dry nature. As hinoki has an excellent dimensional stability and durability, it has always been the first choice when it comes to the bearing structure of a house. Still today hinoki is widely used in construction, especially for the parts which are connected with the “life and soul” of the building: columns and foundations. The grain is very compact and prevents the penetration of insects. The wood from the Kiso Valley hinoki is especially water and rot-resistant making it highly suitable for use in baths.

The choice for your ofuro
Hinoki is our most-requested type of wood. Depending on your bathroom layout and your budget we may sometimes recommend one of two other types of wood:
Sawara or Asnaro.

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