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Japanese Wood


Recently, one of our staff had an opportunity to visit Japan. While there a visit to a Tokyo Wood Shop was arranged. The "Wood Shop", located near the JR Shinkiba station, had an incredible supply of hardwoods from all over the world. But of course, our interest was in acquiring Japanese native hardwoods. Luckily we were able to purchase a small quantity of native Japanese woods which were then hand carried back to the USA for the express purpose of making custom pens and pencils for the Burgess Wood Work.

Check out our "Premium Pens" being made from these wonderful woods.

Below is a brief description of each of the native Japanese woods that were acquired.

Katsura (Cercidiphyllum japonicum)
A genus of two species of plants, the sole members of the Cercidiphyllaceae. They are native to eastern Asia, in Japan (Honshu and Hokkaido) and China (Shanxi southwest to Sichuan and east to Zhejiang). Plants from China were at one time separated as C. japonicum var. sinense, but no consistent difference between Japanese and Chinese origins has been found.

Cercidiphyllum japonicum, can reach 40-45 m tall and have trunks to 2 m diameter, and is among the largest hardwood trees in Asia. This tree has a unique feature in autumn its foliage smells strongly of burnt sugar or candyfloss for about a week, after the leaves loose their chlorophyll and turn yellow. The aroma is probably caused by esterification of sugars in the leaves, and it scents the air around the tree on warm autumn afternoons.

This particular specimen of Katsura comes from the trunk portion that is below ground level, closer to the roots. The trunk wood that is above ground is light, almost a creme color with yellow sapwood streaks interspersed. On the other hand, the trunk wood that is below ground takes on a rich, dark, brown-green color with streaks of yellow sapwood. The darker below ground colors are caused by the absorption of minerals directly through the trunk wood rather than the root system.

Mini European Ballpoint - Cobalt Finish - Katsura Wood from Japan
European Ballpoint - Titanium Finish - Katsura Wood from Japan

Sakura, Mountain (Prunus serrulata or Cherry Blossom wood)
Sakura is native to Japan and is the Japanese name for ornamental cherry trees, Prunus serrulata, and their blossoms. It is a small tree with a short single trunk, with a dense crown reaching a height of about 8-12 m. This upright and vase shaped cherry features an outstanding display of large double deep pink blooms in pendant clusters. The smooth bark is chestnut-brown. It is usually grafted on to Prunus avium roots and rarely bears fruit.

Mini European Ballpoint - Cobalt Finish - Sakura Wood from Japan
European Ballpoint - Platinum Finish - Sakura Wood from Japan

Sugi (Cryptomeria Japonica)
A genus of conifer in the cypress family, it is endemic to Japan, where it is known as Sugi; this vernacular name is increasingly being used as the English name as well, replacing the old, botanically inaccurate name "Japanese Cedar" - the tree is not related to the cedars (Cedrus).

Sugi is the National tree of Japan, commonly planted around temples, with many hugely impressive trees planted centuries ago. It is native only to Japan, where it occurs naturally in pure and mixed stands from Kyushu to N Honshu at elevations to 400 m. The wood is scented, reddish-pink in color, lightweight but strong, waterproof and resistant. to decay.

European Ballpoint - Cobalt Finish - Sugi Wood from Japan

Yaku Sugi (Cryptomeria Japonica)
Sugi native only to the Island of Yakushima in South Japan. It is an irregular pentagon in shape. It lies to the south of Kyushu and is part of the Kagoshima Prefecture. The pristine Yakusugi Forest is said to have inspired the forest setting in Hayao Miyazaki's animated film Princess Mononoke.

European Ballpoint - Cobalt Finish - Yaku Sugi Wood from Japan

Sugi Burl
Burl found on Cryptomeria Japonica.

European Ballpoint - Cobalt Finish - Sugi Burl Wood from Japan
European Ballpoint - Cobalt Finish - Sugi Burl Wood from Japan

Tamo (Broussonetia Kazinoki)
Native to Japan, Korea, Taiwan, Central China, and the Ryukyus, Tamo is a medium sized tree in the mulberry family often used to make paper pulp. It has leaves that are unlobed, two-lobed, or three-lobed. This variety has leaves that are boldly splashed with white, cream and yellow. The wood is also cream colored tinged with brown and light violet.

European Ballpoint - Cobalt Finish with Black Cap - Toma Wood from Japan

Urushi (Rhus Verniciflua)
A small Asiatic tree yielding a toxic exudate from which lacquer is obtained. Also known as varnish tree, lacquer tree, Chinese lacquer tree, Japanese lacquer tree, Japanese varnish tree, Japanese sumac. The common names are somewhat misleading. Technically, the plants do not contain a poison; they contain a potent allergen.

European Ballpoint - Cobalt Finish with Black Cap - Urushi Wood from Japan

The Raw Wood

Some Japanese Native wood

Katsura and Sugi Wood
L-R: Sugi, Katsura, Sugi
Sakura
Sakura
(cherry blossom wood)
Tamo
Tamo

Sugi Burl
Sugi Burl

Sugi Burl
Sugi Burl
Sugi Burl End Pieces
Sugi Burl

Urushi
Urushi

 

 
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