B2 Information Report

Yakisugi – The Art of Wood Burning

Yakisugi is the traditional Japanese method of wood preservation. It has been in practice since the 18th century. “Yaki” means to burn, and “sugi” means too much – so yakisugi is translated as “to burn too much”.  This method also follows the Japanese way of thinking called “wabi-sabi”. According to this philosophy, humans are encouraged to see and appreciate the imperfections we find in life.

In yakisugi, fire is used as an agent to speed up the effects of natural weather conditions on wood. The weathering effects that would happen naturally to wood over a long period of time creates a very rugged or rustic looking wood. However, in yakisugi, a blow torch is used to speed up this process by charring the surface of the wood but not destroying it completely. The burning process brings the wood grains closer and tighter together, creating a very solid and long lasting surface. This also makes the wood water-proof.

Yakisugi also protects the wood against insects. Studies have shown that fire treated wood is less susceptible to termites compared to regular untreated wood. It would seem that the fire treated wood is not as tasty to these insects; so they stay away.

These are some reasons why yakisugi treated wood has been a popular wood choice for building houses. Furthermore, these days many modern buildings all over the world (not only in Japan) also use this specially treated wood inside their buildings. Many homeowners find this type of wood very pleasing to the eye. This interior design trend was made popular through home improvement documentaries shown worldwide.

The art of yakisugi helps to not only preserve the wood, but also make the wood look like an antique. This method of wood burning increases the strength, personality and character of the wood. Wood treated the yakisugi way can last for as long as 100 years or even more. Wood treated with fire like this can be recycled more than once as it retains its shape and stays strong over many years.




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preservation (n) – the keeping of something valuable free from damage
grain (n) – lines on the surface of the wood
retain(v) – to keep or preserve
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