Shou Sugi Ban: The Traditional Art Of Charred Wood

The term “Shou-Sugi-Ban” is Japanese and literally translates to “burnt cedar board”. The term is commonly used to describe the centuries old Japanese technique of charring “Sugi” (cedar) planks used for residential siding, fencing, and decking projects.

Originally, Japanese carpenters looking for an artistic and unique finish that also improved durability used recovered driftwood from the coastlines of Japan.

Because of the weathering process wood undergoes when it is subjected to the harsh environment of saltwater, surf, and sun, Japanese driftwood was prized for its unique appearance and durability in many different carpentry mediums.

Driftwood that had undergone the appropriate weathering process was in short supply while demand in Japan for such a product was high.

So the Japanese turned to another weathering process to achieve the durability and aesthetic. Fire in this case provided the preservative, and the unique and artistic dimension Japanese homeowners and craftsman were looking for.