Inspire Creativity

Simply put, Hinoki wood has been historically used in Japan to create beautiful baths, castles, and shrines because of its practical anti-rot and anti-fungal properties. But aside from these purely functional uses, I wondered what aspects made Hinoki wood a culturally significant material. Furthermore, I wondered what the role of Hinoki could be in a modern context apart from its ancient and original applications. I stumbled upon a two poems that read:

Ki no ha chiru
sakura wa karushi
hinoki gasa (1684)

All the leaves have fallen and
The cherries seem insubstantial
As my hinoki umbrella
Basho, Hokku
hana chirite
mi no shita yami ya
hinoki kasa

blossoms fallen
what darkness below
my hinoki travel hat
Buson, Yosa

What struck me about Hinoki, and what I think makes it a timeless material, is the inspiration that people all over the world have derived from this single tree species. Over and over again I see uses of Hinoki that appear to be driven by practicality but are really emotional responses to the tree, the wood, the fragrance. Inspired architecture such as the Osaka Castle and famous Ise Shrine in Japan were crafted with Hinoki wood. Outside of Japan though, many people have similar creatively inspired reactions to Hinoki. For example American sculptor Charles Ray exhibited a massive sculpture to the Art Institute of Chicago entitled, “Hinoki” that is to remain unchanged for 400 years and then enter a period of settling, splitting, and cracking. This life process of the tree, a life cycle that is specific to Hinoki, inspired the artist to create this natural piece. The talented traveler and chef David Myers founded an entire restaurant concept on the basis of his emotional response to Hinoki, the memories it evoked for him, the experiences and values that it represented in his life. He says,

“The first time that I got off the plane there [Japan], the aroma, the smells from the city that hit your nose, you’ll never forget it. I felt like I just came home…Hinoki is this beautiful japanese cypress tree and this tree has an amazing aroma to it. It’s very clean, very pure, very soft and when you have that scent of the Hinoki, it walks through the dining room and it just feels incredible.” - David Myers

Like these incredible poets, architects, sculptors, and chefs, we too have been creatively inspired by Hinoki. Perhaps a whiff of the fragrance that comes from one of the soaps or even a spoon carving will spark a line of Haiku, a few notes of a new melody, or even just inspire a moment of relaxation!


Hinoki Sculpture
Hinoki Sculpture
About “Hinoki kasa”
Poem 1
Poem 2
Hinoki and the Bird - Chef speaking
Hinoki in cooking! “Hinoki Scented Black Cod”


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