Binchō-tan (Japanese: 備長炭), also called white charcoal or binchō-zumi, is a traditional charcoal of Japan. It dates to the Edo period, when during the Genroku era, a craftsman named Bichū-ya Chōzaemon (備中屋 長左衛門) began to produce it in Tanabe, Wakayama. The raw material is oak, specifically ubame oak (Quercus phillyraeoides), now the official tree of Wakayama Prefecture. Wakayama continues to be a major producer of high-quality charcoal, with the town of Minabe, Wakayama producing more binchō-tan than any other town in Japan. Binchōtan is a type of lump charcoal or hardwood charcoal.
Charcoal in general has been a cleansing and medicinal substance for thousands of years. The use of activated charcoal has long been used in the medical field to treat poisoning by drugs, dangerous chemicals and snakes. This is because its alkalinity helps in neutralizing the acids found in poisons. Currently, most people have taken the use of activated charcoal into their homes. While some use it as detox cleansers, others use it as teeth whiteners and for skin treatments.
I am amazed at just how many different Charcoal products are available in Japan. Lets start with the soap. During my first year in Japan, it did not take me long to discover charcoal soap. I tried it on a whim but became rather happy with the silky lather and the light clean scent. No harsh perfume smells or itchy skin. I have found it in bar form and liquid soap.
When it comes to barbecuing, it took me a little getting used to. It takes a lot of heat, like a blow torch, to get it started and after it burns down it lasts for up to 4 to 6 hours. I would not use anything else for a real BBQ.
I am really into the liquid air fresheners. They have a light scent and they last for months. They absorb the worst bathroom odors in no time.
I haven’t tried tooth paste but I may give it a go. Please check out this article by
A bit more on Japanese and other strange charcoal products.