Hinoki Cypress

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Cypress, Japanese cypress (hinoki)

***** Location: Japan
***** Season: See below
***** Category: Plant


Chamaecyparis obtusa
(Japanese cypress, hinoki cypress or hinoki; Japanese: 檜 or 桧, hinoki) is a species of cypress native to central Japan.

It is a slow-growing tree which grows to 35 m tall with a trunk up to 1 m in diameter. The bark is dark red-brown. The leaves are scale-like, 2-4 mm long, blunt tipped (obtuse), green above, and green below with a white stomatal band at the base of each scale-leaf. The cones are globose, 8-12 mm diameter, with 8-12 scales arranged in opposite pairs. The related Chamaecyparis pisifera (Sawara Cypress) can be readily distinguished in its having pointed tips to the leaves and smaller cones.

It is grown for its very high quality timber in Japan, where it is used as a material for building palaces, temples, shrines, traditional noh theatres, baths, table tennis blades and masu. The wood is lemon-scented, light pinkish-brown, with a rich, straight grain, and is highly rot-resistant.

For example, Horyuji Temple and Osaka Castle are built from Hinoki wood. The hinoki grown in Kiso, used for building Ise Shrine, are called 御神木 Go-Shin-boku "Tree where god stayed".
© More in the WIKIPEDIA !

. shinboku 神木, shinju 神樹 sacred tree .
go shinboku, goshinboku, go-shinboku 御神木 "honorable sacred tree"


hinoki ochiba 檜落葉(ひのきおちば)
hinoki cyrpess needles falling

kigo for early summer

The leaves are scale-like, 2-4 mm long, blunt tipped (obtuse), green above, and green below with a white stomatal band at the base of each scale-leaf.
. WKD : falling leaves (ochiba) .


asunaro hinoki アスナロ / 翌檜 Asunaro Hinoki ,
hinoki asunaro ヒノキアスナロ
rakanbaku 羅漢柏(らかんはく)
asuhi アスヒ
Thujopsis dolabrata, false cypress

Hiba, False arborvitae, Hiba arborvitae
© More in the WIKIPEDIA !

"Tomorrow I will become" ... the false cypress prays every night to become a real cypress.
(asu wa hinoki ni naro)
Some people spend the whole day drinking sake and enjoying life, while wondering if tomorrow they will become "better".

asunaro already mentioned in the pillow book by Sei Shonagon 清少納言.

「何の心ありてあすはひのき( 明日は桧)とつけけむ.

hi wa hana ni kurete sabishi ya asunarō

with the sun darkening
on the blossoms, it is lonely -
a false cypress

Tr. Barnhill

The day is over with blossoms
And sad now, to see
The dark silouhette of asunaro-trees!

Tr. Oseko

After sunset with cherries in bloom -
In solitude
A hiba arborvitae.

Tr. Saito, Nelson

As the sun goes down
flowers go over - sadness
of the false cypress

- - - - - and

sabishisa ya hana no atari no asunaro

Loneliness -
amidst blossoms
a false cypress

In a haibun from the spring of 1688 Basho writes,
“ ‘Tomorrow I’ll become a cypress’. That’s what the old tree once said in the valley. Yesterday has gone by and tomorrow hasn’t arrived. So, whilst alive, I enjoy my wine and keep repeating to myself “tomorrow, tomorrow”, until I’m rebuked by the sages”.
Basho had in mind a poem of Po Chu I‘s entitled ‘Recommending Wine’.

A pile of gold after death
is not worth a cask at wine
while alive

Tr. and comment : Bill Wyatt

Standing amid the blossoms,
A cypress tree.

(Ueda, Literary and Art Theories in Japan, 149)

This is a spring poem with a scene when cherry blossoms are in full bloom. But it is the green cypress tree in the middle of them that does not harmonize with the loveliness and gaiety of the scene. This cypress situated among the scene of blossoms is what brings about the atmosphere of loneliness. With this poem loneliness is not referring to a man's personal emotion anymore; it is instead describing an impersonal aura.

This ambience, this atmosphere of sabi, consists of a feeling of loneliness. This is not the sense of loneliness that Americans and other Westerners feel. This type of loneliness is something enjoyable to have sensed; it gives solace to the more sorrowful life.
source : Riley B. Irwin, 2007

Written in 1688, 元禄元年 Basho age 45.
Basho in Yoshino, the Cherry Blossom Mountain.
Basho spent the whole day looking at the blossoms and enjoying a drink, getting one day older . . .

This hokku has the cut marker YA at the end of line 2.

. Matsuo Basho 松尾芭蕉 - Archives of the WKD .

Worldwide use

Things found on the way

. hinokigasa ひのき笠 hat made from hinoki bark .

This hat is rather large and protects the walking pilgrim from rain. In our modern times it comes with a plastic cover to protect the hat from the rain !


ikameshiki oto ya arare no hinoki-gasa

so harsh
the sound - hail
on my traveler's hat

Tr. Gabi Greve

konoha chiru sakura wa karushi hinokigasa

Yoshino nite sakura mishoo zo hinoki-gasa

MORE hokku about the traveler's hat of
. Matsuo Basho 松尾芭蕉 - Archives of the WKD .


Related words

***** . Tree (ki, jumoku) and Forest .

***** . - kasa 笠 hat - .
hinokigasa ひのき笠 "cypress hat" cypress-bark hat
pilgrim's hat, traveler's hat, made from pine bark


1 comment:

Gabi Greve - Darumapedia said...

himonoshi 檜物師 "artisan making things from Hinoki cypress wood"
also called magemonoshi 曲物師 craftsmen of bentwood products
kurimono 刳物 "bent things"


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