Mr. Hiroyuki Ohashi, CEO
MASUYA was established in 1950 and has been making high-quality masu cups for over 60 years. Next to traditional masu cups, they also have a wide range of other Hinoki products, including a unique, ecological humidifier, drinking sets, and even customizable cups.
Masu cups have played an important part in Japanese traditions for over 1300 years. The small square cups made of Hinoki wood were originally used to measure rice and other food items, especially when they were still a trading currency. Gradually, the cups became as popular as the content they were measuring, and they started to get used for other purposes as well.
The term ‘masu’ means ‘growth’ in Japanese, and thus these cups became an important symbol for growth, success and prosperity. The cups became popular sake cups during weddings and traditional celebrations, and farmers use the masu cups to serve beans on the day before spring, to pray for a successful harvest. No wood is specifically cut to make masu cups. Instead, they are made by recycling wood that did not meet the standards for construction, and is therefore an ecological solution.
80% of all masu cups are produced in Ogaki (Gifu), a city, not surprisingly, famous for its cypress trade. Whereas the Masu art originated in Nagoya, many craftsmen brought their skills back home to Ogaki; and after Nagoya suffered damage during the war, Ogaki took over as centre of production.
The measurements of masu cups were established 500 years ago and are still being used today, whether used to measure rice or drink sake.
Masu cups are popular as a gift, big events, as a well as small celebrations. You will enjoy the unique earthy smell, soft touch and beautiful look, while understanding its heritage and beautiful symbol. Masu cups are real artworks that require craftsmanship to make the cups fit rightly enough to contain liquids, even without nails, and also feel gentle against the skin and lips.
Traditionally logos are burned into the cup. The works best for text and logos without graduations.
Laser technology allows to make graduations. This is typically used for engraving from photos.
Silk printing is used for colored logos. It is best with full colors and does not allow graduations.
Hinoki is a species of cypress, evergreen trees local to Japan. It is a slow-growing tree, with beautiful green, glossy leaves, grown for its high-quality timber. Its distinctive, slightly earthy- and lemon-scented wood is often used for Japanese incense stick and is a popular feature of Hinoki crafts.
The Hinoki trees are not only beautiful, but also believed to have a cleansing and purifying effect – something that is reflected in the type of crafts made from it.
The ‘Nihon Shiki’, one of Japan’s oldest books, describes the Hinoki as ‘a good tree for building palaces’, and therefore names it ‘hi no ki’ – trees of the sun; the sun representing the highest being at that time. The Hinoki was often used to build shrines, temples, government offices and imperial courts- and gardens. Furthermore, it was a popular material for funeral equipment for both Buddhist and Shito ceremonies, as the clean, stripped and undecorated wood was associated with the gods. Gradually, Hinoki has become more integrated in daily life objects, due to its scent, beauty, functionality and durability. It is said that Hinoki becomes even stronger 200 years after being logged, and only gradually weakens 1000 years after. The oldest wooden structure known to date, the Horyuji Temple, is made of Hinoki wood and still standing strong 1400 years after its construction.
Hinioki wood is extremely smooth, has a beautiful white- slightly reddish colour, and a unique, mild scent. It has a very durable core, which is water resistant and therefore often used for crafts in humid environment, such as bath tubs and buckets, as the Hinoki does not warp. It is light, strong, durable and beautiful, and therefore more and more appreciated as a material worldwide.
Whereas many wood types have some kind of scent, it often fades after a while. Hinoki therefore is a popular choice for construction and crafting materials as it has a long-lasting, calming fragrance. Research suggests that Hinoki has a strong antibacterial and stress-relieving effect, lasting long after drying and logging it. It suppresses the formation of mould and bacteria, and is even said to control mite, making it a versatile object, used both in home as in popular sushi kitchens! The ministry of Agriculture, Forestry and Fisheries’ Research Lab has even stated that Hinoki fragrance alone is enough to prevent mites, as experiments showed mites died within a day and hinders their occurrence.