Hinoki: precious wood, top quality material



1. Academic and common names

Hinoki (Chamaecyparis obtuse Endlicher) is an evergreen conifer which belongs to the genus hinoki (Chamaecyparis Spach) under the Cupressaceae family. Included in the Cupressaceae family are incense cedar (Calocedrus Kurz), Cypress (Cupressus L.), Juniper (Juniperus  L.), Laosian cypress (Fokienia Henryet Thomas), Oriental arbor-vita (Platycladus Spach), Sabina (Sabina Mill), Hiba arborvitae (Thujopsis Sieb. et Zucc.), Usuri cypress (Microbiota) and Thuja. The Hinoki genus includes Taiwanese red  cypress  (C. formosensis Matsum.)  and  Taiwanese  cypress  (C. obtuse    var. formosana (Hayata) Behd.).

Its business term in wood distribution and trade is Hinoki as pronounced in the country of origin.It is called Japanese cypress in English. It is said that the word Hinoki derives from tree (ki) of (of) day (hi) or sprit (hi).


2. Geographic distribution and major producing areas

Hinoki is one of the major tree species in Japan, distributed mainly is Hoshu, shikoku and Kyushu. The prefectures well known for Hinoki production are Nagano, Gifu, Shizuoka, Mie, Nara, Wakayama, Okayama, Ehime, Kochi and Kumamoto.. Well-established brand names are Kiso-hinoki, Tono-hinoki, Tenryu-hinoki, Owase-hunoki, Yoshino-hinoki, Koyasan-hinoki, Mimasaka-hinoki and Ehime-hinoki.


3. Physiological features

Hinoki is a tall evergreen tree and it can grow taller than 20 meters. Most trees have straight trunks.


4. Distinct features of wood

The color of heartwood is light red and that of sapwood is close to white. Distinction between heartwood and sapwood, therefore , is easy. The grain is relatively uniform and displays warmth and beauty. The surface is smooth to the touch. The glossy surface and the characteristic scent are liked by people today. Hinoki is also widely known as a building material good for health.


5. Performance

The  average  air-dried  density  is  0.44  g/cm2.  The  wood  is  tight  and  has  little dimensional deformity andis easy to process. The heartwood has superior preservative and  anti-moist/water  quality.  It  performs  well  in  drying,  adhesion,  polishing  and painting.


6. Main uses

Hinoki is used in multiple applications, primarily in  wooden  buildings  such  as  foundations,  posts, beams, wall panels, floorings, as well as interior , furniture, bath tubs, saunas, etc. . It is considered as  the  best  building material  in  Japan. With  its strength and natural durability, it is used widely in Japanese style structures and interiors.

The several natural elements contained in hinoki wood  are  regarded  capable  of  absorbing  harmful materials  such  as  formaldehyde.  The  scent  exuded  from  phytoncide,  one  of  the terpenes, has not only anti bacterial and termites effects, but also activates human's parasympathetic  nerve,  thereby  brings  relaxation,  lowers  blood  pressure,  and amplifies alpha waves. In comparison with the woods in the world, hinoki is highly suitable for health and an excellent wood.   


7. Resources and log production

According to the  statistics as of March 31, 2017, planted Hinoki area  is 2.6 million hectares with 740 million m3 of growing stock. Hinoki accounts for 26% of the planted forests and 22% of the growing stock. The log production in 2018 was 2.77 million m3 or 13% of the total.


Japan Wood Products Export Association
Rinyu Building, 1-7-12 Koraku, Bunkyo-ku Tokyo, 112-0004 Japan
TEL +81-3-5844-6275 FAX +81-3-3816-5595