In Japan, no daily ritual is more uniquely important to the individual's well-being than the bath at the end of the day. It is seen as a time of purification and relaxation from the stress and tensions of the modern world. For centuries they have considered Hinoke the preferred wood for building palaces, temples, shrines and bath environments. It is one of Japan's most prized woods, and is the wood from which Emperor's palaces and caskets were made.
True hinoki is a cypress that grows only in Japan. In the United States, there grows a tree that's called Port Orford Cedar (POC). Grown only on the west coast, port orford cedar is not a true cypress, yet not really a cedar, the Japanese feel it is so close a cousin to their hinoke that they consider it a "religious' wood. The wood of both the hinoki and POC is a lemon-scented, light-colored wood with a rich, straight grain, and is highly rot resistant.
Interestingly, the U.S. government only allows one type of wood to be exported as logs rather than as milled lumber. Hinoki. And the Japanese consume over 85% of the U.S. supply.
The Virtues of Hinoki
Current studies with aroma-therapy indicate the effectiveness of Hinoki to reduce stress. Besides the fact that Hinoki oil has been used for treating skin problems, such as minor skin irritations, rashes, cuts and abrasions, research indicates that the wood is very gentle on the body and skin.
Hinoki and its oil are known for their ability to kill bacteria, viruses and viral infections, and fungus, and are used as a general and nerve tonic and to fight off or cure infections. Two strong properties found in Hinoki have a relaxing and decongestant effect and are excellent for stuffy noses, sinus congestion, chest congestion, respiratory conditions, and breathing problems like asthma as well as relief of tension and stress.