Cryptomeria japonica D. Don (C. japonica) has been used in traditional medicines from Asia for a variety of indications, including liver ailments, and an antitussive, and for its antiulcer activities. We examined the cell viability and apoptosis of KB cells treated with C. japonica essential oil at several concentrations for 12 h by MTT assay, Hoechst-33258 dye staining, DNA fragmentation, flow cytometry (cell cycle), and Western blotting for mitochondria stress, activation of caspases, and poly (ADP-ribose) polymerase. The essential oil induced the apoptosis of KB cells in a dose-dependent manner, which was verified by DNA fragmentation, appearance of apoptotic bodies, and the sub-G1 ratio. The essential oil also induced rapid and transient caspase-3 activity and cleavage of PARP of the KB cells. Treating the cells with the oil also caused changes in the mitochondrial level of the Bcl-2 family proteins such as Bcl-2 and Bax, thereby inducing the release of cytochrome c into the cytosol. The essential oil of C. japonica may have potential as a cancer chemopreventive and therapeutic agent.