Japanese Cypress aka “Hinoki” cypress is a species of cypress native to central Japan, also you can see these kinds of trees in a part of Taiwan.
This Japanese native tree has been loved by Japanese people in Japanese thousands of history.
It’s not only the strength and dryness but also the Hinoki cypress has lots of benefits in several situations, so Japanese people use many Hinoki wooden products such as bathtubs, kitchen tools, building materials, household supplies.
Japanese “Hinoki” cypress has been researched with its attractive effects such as reducing stresses.
So, I am going to tell you why Japanese people love “Hinoki” so much and why you should incorporate Hinoki wooden products into your daily life.
- Japanese Hinoki Cypress = Rich Phytoncide
- The Antibacterial Effect Of Hinoki Cypress
Japanese Hinoki Cypress = Rich Phytoncide
Speaking of Hinoki, the most appealing substance “Phytoncide” will be the first topic we should talk about.
Among thousands of species of tree and plants, “Coniferous trees” includes Hinoki cypress produces a large amount of Phytoncide.
The main ingredients of Hinoki Phytoncide of Hinoki cypress are,
・ α- pinene
“α-Cadinol” I explain later has an antibacterial effect. “α-pinene” has tremendous relaxing effects such as calming the autonomic nervous system, increasing concentration, reducing pulse disturbance, and promoting better sleep.
In particular, the Japanese “Hinoki” cypress has a high content of phytoncide among trees, and it is said that it continues to release that component even after the cut and processed.
“Phytoncide” is a substance emitted by plants & trees and you are familiar with it as the aroma of the forest. Phytoncides are produced because to protect themselves from harmful enemies such as insects and bacteria.
“Phyton” means “plant” and “cide”means “kill” in Latin, and it sounds scary.
Despite the meaning of the word sounds scary, this “forest aroma”, a unique woody scent, can be expected to repel insects, bacteria, moreover, provides various health benefits for humans.
・Lower blood pressure
・Treat irregular heartbeat
・Keep the autonomic nervous system healthy
・Calm down brain activity
Do you know that you have already known the phytoncide power-
When you take a walk in the woods, don’t you feel is relaxed and refreshed?
Repeatedly, Phytoncide is contained major trees and plants, which is the reason you can feel relaxed when walking in the woods. Among those plants and trees, the Hinoki cypress has particularly powerful effects of Phytoncide.
*Coniferous trees aka Conifers are often called evergreens, and their names are associated with trees that have needles rather than wide, flat leaves.
Now you got the idea of the relationship between Hinoki cypress and Phetoncide, let’s dive into the details of Hinoki cypress benefits.
The Antibacterial Effect Of Hinoki Cypress
Hinoki is a natural insecticide.
Hinoki has many essential oil components that have insect repellent and bactericidal effects.
One of them, “alpha-Cadinol” has the effect of suppressing the growth of Wood-decay fungus.
For this reason, the Japanese who like wooden houses prefer to use Hinoki cypress as the building material. Moreover, you can see the over 1,000-year-old temples and shrines in Japan still now, it is because the wooden structures are made of Hinoki cypress.
Have you ever seen cypress leaves placed under fresh fish at a sushi restaurant?
It because Hinoki leaves suppress the growth of mold and bacteria, prevent oxidation, and protects food from spoilage.
The Hinoki Cypress Effects; Not only For Buildings But Also For The Human Body
“alpha-Cadinol” also has a function to suppress the growth of dental caries bacteria.
The substance “terpenes” which absorbs toxic substances such as formaldehyde in buildings, and another substance “Hinokitiol” has an antibacterial effect for MRSA (Methicillin-resistant Staphylococcus aureus-responsible for several difficult-to-treat infections in humans.)
The Scent Of Hinoki Cypress; Powerful Anti-mite and Acaricidal Effect
Japanese houses made of Hinoki woods are known for preventing house bugs such as termites, mites, and ticks. To take advantage of these Hinoki effects more, Japanese building material companies have been studying to use Hinoki cypress essential oil into plywood under the floor, into wallpaper, and into tatami floors.
The Deodorant Effect Of Hinoki Cypress
The deodorant effect of cypress is also well known.
According to the study of eliminating the ammonia smell with the Hinoki essential oil, the deodorant rate was 97%!
Particularly, multiple scent components in Hinoki decompose by chemically reacting with the malodorous component, and they mask the odor substance and eliminates them with the nice scent of cypress.
For this reason, Hinoki essential oil is often used for organic room deodorant spray.
Also, Japanese professional chefs prefer to use kitchen tools such as cutting boards, sushi rice mixing tubsmade of Hinoki cypress using its powerful antibacterial and deodorant effect, and they are also easy-dry.
Natural Relaxation Power Of Hinoki Cypress
The most appealing point of Hinoki cypress is probably the “relaxing scent” as I mentioned. The scent of cypress has the effect of promoting happiness and a good mood, calming the mind.
*The study concludes that touching hinoki calms prefrontal cortex activity and increases parasympathetic nervous activity.
Also, smelling alpha-Pinene, a scent component contained in Hinoki cypress, leads to parasympathetic nervous system dominance which works for feeling relaxation.
Japanese traditional style bathtubs and accessories are often made of Hinoki cypress and they make sense. Because Hinoki aroma enhances the relaxation effect of bathing further in addition to the durability and anti-bacterial.
This traditional Hinoki wooden bathtub is called “Hinoki Buro”, and you can see it in most Ryokan hotels and other accommodations in Onsen towns, which attract guests with a relaxing scent.
The Strength and Durability Of Hinoki Cypress
In Japan, the Hinoki cypress is called “the king of the tree” because it has dense and tough properties and is resistant to moisture and termites. Examining the bending and compression strength of the Hinoki cypress, the strength increases after processed and reaches its peak about 200 years later. After that, the strength gradually decreases, however, the strength after felling is maintained even after 1200 years.
Therefore, Hinoki has been used in Japanese architecture.
Horyuji Temple is the oldest wooden building in the world. the reason why the Horyuji temple has remained for such a long time is because of the Hinoki cypress. Indeed, all of the many historical structures that remain in Nara are also made of the Hinoki cypress.
It is said that the Hinoki structure shakes moderately and prevents it from collapsing in the case of earthquakes.
Humidity Control / Dehumidification Effect
Hinoki has many small cavities (cells), and even after being lumbered, the cavities breathe in and out of moisture. Therefore, it repeatedly expands and contracts to depend on the temperature and humidity of the room. Due to this feature, it has the property of adjusting the humidity environment so that people can spend comfortably.
The humidifier made of Hinoki cypress using its humidity control is the popular item. It gives you natural warmth and natural woody scent.
Hinoki Cypress Deeply Are Related In The Japanese Soul
The connection between the Japanese soul and the Hinoki cypress tree has been handed down from ancient times. The Chronicles of Japan (published in 720 AD) described that “Hinoki cypress is best for building palaces.”
This can be said to be proof that Japanese people have found the charm of cypress as wood since ancient times.
To “Miyadaiku” -special carpenters who handle traditional Japanese structures, the wood means Hinoki cypress when they refer to the wood.
If you look at Horyuji Temple, the world’s oldest wooden structure, the temple still remains after 1,300 years. Thus, our ancestors knew how perfect a cypress was- has outstanding strength and durability, and has a beautiful grain and rich fragrance. Hinoki cypress, which has been an indispensable building material for shrines and temples since ancient times, is truly a sacred tree.
The beauty and aroma of the Hinoki cypress must have attracted the hearts of ancient people to calm them down.
Hinoki cypress has been also used for the theaters for Japanese traditional performing arts such as Kabuki, Noh, Kyogen. The Hinoki stage used in expressions such as “standing on the cypress stage” is proof of being a top-notch actor. Since the Hinoki lumbers have been an expensive building material, and Hinoki production in the Edo period was only permitted on the stage officially approved by the Shogunate (the military dictators).
The story behinds the expression can show how precious Hinoki cypress was to the Japanese.
Indeed, the cypress house gives the stereotype of a luxurious wooden house. (It is true though.)
From a survey of their favorite scents among the 10 woody scents, the majority of Japanese chose the cypress scent.
The Japanese may unknowingly know that the scent is part of their lives.
In these ways, Hinoki cypress is really attractive because it has good durability, prevents mold and ticks, and it also stimulates the brain with a good natural scent.
Hinoki baths made from cypress wood- “Hinoki Buro” are becoming popular recently even in overseas countries. Taking a bath with the scent of Hinoki cypress makes you feel relaxed.
However, remodeling the bathroom is quite difficult. please do not worry! You can enjoy the cypress effect with Hinoki wooden bath accessories!
Moreover, EEG measurements have also revealed that its aroma has a sedative effect. You can increase the value of relaxing time by using Hinoki products.
Hinoki is the most popular timber in Japan which is inseparable from Japanese life.
When you know the Hinoki cypress benefits, why not enjoy the Hinoki life!
“Hinoki” benefits aka “Phytoncide” effects last even after becoming products like I introduced today. It’s proven you can get the same effects of “Shinrin Yoku” aka “Forest bathing” just with being surrounded by natural wooden products.
Do you want to check out? Read Next!
- Effects of Essential Oil from Hinoki Cypress, Chamaecyparis obtusa, on Physiology and Behavior of Flies
- Habuka Kensetsu (Japanese site)
- Journal of Wood Science
- Wiley Online Library
Do you want to know about Japanese Bath Salts which bring you the luxury bath time for your special relaxation? There is “Hinoki bath bombs,” I wrote about.