making binchontan

Most charcoal is wood that has been carbonized by partial burning with little air. It has been used for millennia, and scholars say the history of charcoal in Japan goes back several thousand years to the Jomon era.

Binchotan charcoal was introduced to Japan by Japanese monk and scholar Kukai 1,200 years ago. And it was during the Edo Period that a man called Binchuya Chozaemon made it popular.

In the early modern period, Chado (the Way of Tea) took on greater importance, and this led to the making of an even finer variety of charcoal for the tea ceremony.

Binchotan is almost as hard as steel, with the smoothest surface when it’s cut through.  If one strikes two pieces together, one hears a clear, metallic sound. It is an excellent electrical conductor. It contains a variety of minerals that were absorbed during its life as tree.

Today, Japan’s charcoal-making techniques are admired worldwide.