CRYPTOMERIA JAPONICA（’SUGI’ IN JAPANESE） IS A CONIFER IN THE CYPRESS FAMILY ENDEMIC TO JAPAN, OFTEN REFERRED TO AS ‘JAPANESE CEDAR’ IN ENGLISH. ‘AKITA SUGI’ IS A SPECIFIC NAME FOR ‘CRYPTOMERIA JAPONICA’ GROWING IN AKITA PREFECTURE, THAT IS DEEMED AS ONE OF THE THREE MOST BEAUTIFUL FORESTS IN JAPAN.
Cryptomeria japonica timber is extremely fragrant, weather and insect resistant, soft, and with a low density.
As the scientific name ‘Cryptomeria’ literally means ‘hidden parts‘ in Latin, the tree is regarded hidden heritage of Japan, that is valuable and appreciated since ancient times.
The timber has been used for the making of staves, tubs, casks, furniture and other indoor applications throughout the history of Japan.
Wild Akita Sugi, whose age of the tree is 200 - 250 years, is extremely valuable.
It is prohibited by law to cut down Wild Akita Sugi trees since 2013, for the purpose of forest conservation.
We call tubs that has removable lid “Oke” and casks that have attached top “Taru”.
Miso Oke (tubs), Sake Daru (casks) or Koji Buta (trays) made by Akita Sugi are regarded as top quality products in Japan. Akita Sugi has been used for food storage in Japan since at least some 900 years ago.
The features of Oke and Taru made with Akita Sugi are its fragrance and excellent moisture buffering effect. This extremely pleasant scent of Sugi is said to enhance the taste of Sake or Miso.
Sugi is regarded as most suitable timber for Koji trays and they have been used in professional and commercial production at Koji specialty makers, Miso makers and Sake breweries throughout the history of Japan.
They are not often on the market for individual usages even in Japan.
This Koji Buta is made genuinely with wild Akita Sugi with no adhesives. It is rare, professional and the top quality Koji tray in the world.
This exceptional Miso tubs are made with craftsmanship using Akita Sugi, and the hoop parts are made with bamboo grown in Kyoto. No adhesive is used.
Through using Oke for Miso making over time, fermentation bacteria will be alive in the timber that would enhance flavour of Miso. And the Miso would be pleasantly scented with Akita Sugi. You will be able to make one of a kind Miso at home.
When taken care properly, Oke can be used for your life time. Miso Oke can also be used for Nuka pickling as well.
Throughout the history of Japan, Sake had been stored and transported in wooden Taru (casks) until they started to be bottled in glass recently.
We often see a big Sake Daru in a ceremony “Kagami-Biraki” to break open Taru with wooden mallets to pray for well-being and happiness.
Storing Sake in Sake Daru adds pleasant scent to Sake. You can enjoy Sugi fragrant Sake with these relatively small Taru for individual usage at home.