Traditional Japanese Wood Baths | West Wind Hardwood

Buildinvest-unique wood design bathtub
a beautiful bath by Unique Wood Design for a hotel project by Buildinvest, France.

I shattered the ice
to draw water —
no matter, this morning
frozen just as solid.

– – – – –

Otagaki Rengetsu (tr. by John Stevens)

The ritual of bathing as a means of relaxing and warming is sublime.  Made more so if performed in the outdoors with an outdoor shower for the pre-rinse.  On a crisp, chill morning the experience is humbling.

The Japanese bath or more politely the ofuro (お風呂) specifically a short, steep-sided wooden tub calls to Jan and I.  In fact 26 years ago when we built our current home, we purchased all the plumbing for the master bathroom; only to discover years later a jacuzzi tub would’t be for us.  We sold it – unused with the original stickers – to someone building a house on Protection Island (Nanaimo, BC).  Sayōnara and Good bye; better them than us.  And since then, Jan has set his sight on a soaking tub in the floor – as step down into.  Baths of this type are found all over Japan in houses, apartments and traditional Japanese inns.

inground wood jaccuzi bathNot inclined to be a slave to tradition, I’d not planning on recycling the water for every member of the household, nor washing clothes.  Surely some vices are to be excused for living in the land of hydro-electricity.  This would be a fill, slosh, soak, rejuvenate.

A modern ofuro may be made of modern materials but we are ‘the’ wood people.  It’s the journey not the convenience.  Signature pieces by architects and interior designers are vogue; I’ve got my ‘wood’ man who is ever so passionate about wooden boats.  Wood is an excellent insulator; modern boating building techniques provide strong, water-proof joinery.  Voila!! Another dream.  It’s the culture of wood.

The sides are generally square rather than being sloped with generally no overflow drainage.  Not necessarily the tub of yesterday, wooden bathtubs offer an opportunity to explore shapes.  They are a perfect match in today’s modern, minimalistic interiors. Round forms give elegance and sophistication.  Inspired by nature:  Wood ~~ Water.

Beyond the aesthetics of the visual enjoyment, a warm bath stimulates blood circulation and the lymphatic system.  Out there in the realm of “Google”, there is research proving how negatively charged ions present in the water and steam of a bath “scrub off” magnetic tensions and free radicals, having an “anti-aging” effect on the entire body. Negative ions have psychological benefits, imparting a feeling of security and sense of refreshment while soothing the body. Such ions as generated by waterfalls, fountains, and other sources of agitated water.  Who can argue the benefits now?!

Yellow Cedar or Western Red Cedar, Teak, African Mahogany.  Chose the woods that are fearless in a wet environment. Woods that offer anti-bacterial agents; resistant to molds and insects.  Don’t want to form a water bucket brigade to fill the tub?  You’ll need to consider a fast flowing faucet.

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Another dream ~~ I think this one will happen!  Perhaps you’ll see the results in a future “Jan’s Day Off”.  Patience!

If you’ve built such a tub; If you’ve seen such a tub; If you dream of such tub………

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Heard, not seen,
the camellia poured rainwater
when it leaned

a clear waterfall –
into the ripples
fall green pine-needles

The Haiku Poems of Matsu Basho – The Green Leaf File.

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