Shou Sugi Ban – Japanese Wood Burning

Shou Sugi Ban – Traditional Japanese Wood Charring

The ancient practice of charring cedar boards in Japan is called “Shou Sugi Ban” (translated means “burnt cedar boards”) or Yakisugi (“grilled cedar”), and is a contemporary aesthetic choice for many modern home designers. Commonly touted as a natural way to preserve wood, Japanese Shou Sugi Ban techniques have been around for centuries, coming into North American mainstream in the early 2000s. Why is this bygone process of charring wood making waves in the current age?

History of Shou Sugi Ban

The method of Shou Sugi Ban has its roots in necessity and artistic taste. In the early 1700’s, Japanese carpenters were used to using pieces of driftwood as the basis for their exterior projects; the driftwood was uniquely textured and highly durable due to the naturally-occurring weathering process it goes through in the ocean surf. As this sought-after wood became harder to find, carpenters were looking for a new material that could meet the tough visual and resiliency standards of driftwood: Shou Sugi Ban became the new process of producing desirable traits in cedar wood.

Functions of Shou Sugi Ban

Shou Sugi Ban techniques preserve the wood, making it (ironically) more fire-resistant. It also provides dimensional stability within the wood, and prevents decay and rot. When the wood is charred, it also eliminates insect infestations and keeps them from coming back: Shou Sugi Ban techniques neutralize the cellulose inside the wood, making the wood seem barren to interested bugs. Some sources agree that exteriors made with Shou Sugi Ban techniques can last 80-100 years without maintenance!

The Influence of Shou Sugi Ban

Along with the functional traits, Shou Sugi Ban is an aesthetically pleasing, modern-looking architecture built to last. Although the technique of Shou Sugi Ban has been around for centuries, it has come into style in Europe and North America only in the last 20 years. The chic, darkly shaded timbers of Shou Sugi Ban siding provide a new life to a sometimes commonplace look, and have a rich history to match.

Interested in Showcasing Shou Sugi Ban Timbers for Your Home Project?

Using reclaimed timbers for a Shou Sugi Ban project is a sustainable, natural way to bring a piece of history to your home. Contact Manomin Resawn Timbers to discuss how we can turn your charred cedar wood dreams into a reality!