March 2015 Japan Mission with BCWood and FPinnovations


Oldest Wooden Building in Japan Sapporo 1867

Mission Objectives and Results

    1. Work with BCWood and promote Canada Wood and profile AFPA member companies at the Nikkei Architectural & Construction Materials Show March 3 to 6. About 100 persons visited the booth.
  • Share booth space with FPInnovations.
  • Continue business contact building by visiting key companies and associations in Sapporo. Carried out 4 site visits. No outstanding follow-up issues.
  • Assess state of building technology.
  • Meet with trade embassy staff in Sapporo and Canada Wood on behalf of ESRD to discuss plans for the 35th anniversary celebrations of the twinning of Alberta and Hokkaido Prefecture. Possible outcomes from the meetings was a possible wood seminar in Sapporo.
  • Continue to discuss and plan next year’s North Asia activities in light of grant funding decreases and GOA fiscal restraint measures. Activities will be curtailed as result of reduced or possibly no funding. One trip to japan to attend the Japan Home Show in November is proposed.


  1. Continue work with FPInnovations to improve Alberta wood product shipment information for Japan and the rest of Northern Asia.
  2. Attend the Japan Home Show and continue investigating the market opportunities in japan.
  3. Support Alberta Agriculture and Forestry and the upcoming Japan Home Show and at a proposed seminar in Sapporo during Alberta/Hokkaido 35th Friendship Anniversary event November 25 to 27.
  4. Work with Canada Wood and BCWood on a possible BC Alberta Minister led mission to Japan and China late November


Mount Fuji at Sunset from Park Hotel

March 2-6 Nikkei Architectural Forum and Show. Alberta Night Reception


March 3-6,2015


Tokyo Big Sight, East Hall (3-10-1 Ariake,Koto-ku,Tokyo)

Range of Exhibits

<General Construction Materials and Related Products Zone>

  1. Interior / Exterior decorative materials Plywood and Fiber boards, Decorated plywood, Wall and Ceiling covering, Tiles / Stone, Bricks, Metallic and Ceramic siding, Curtain walls, Glass, Interior finishes, etc.
  2. Flooring Tiles, Flooring, Barrier-free and OA flooring, Deck plates, Floor heating, Coated flooring, Flooring materials, Tatami mats, etc.
  3. Roofing / Ceilings Metallic and Slate roofing, Roofing tiles, Rain chutes, Crest tables, Roofing materials, etc.
  4. Doors and Opening parts Doors, Automatic doors, Window sash, Shutters, Partitions, Stairs, Handrails, Grilles, etc.
  5. Supplementary materials Films, Paints, Coating materials, Adhesive / Sealant, Gaskets, Repairing materials, Architectural hardware, Screws, etc.
  6. Construction materials and Functional materials Foundation/Structure support materials, Fire prevention and proofing, Acoustic absorbent / Noise reduction, Thermal insulation, Water proofing / Moisture-proof materials
  7. Other materials
  8. Interior Carpets, Flooring, Curtains / Blinds, Wall covering, Furniture, Other interior materials
  9. Landscape/Exterior Canvas related (Canvas,Tents,Sheets,Awnings,Screens,etc.)Pavement (Pavement materials, Drainage / Grilles for roadside trees, Road marking materials, etc.), Lighting / Signs, Shelters (Gates / Walls / Fences, Outdoor shelters, etc.), Furniture (Outdoor furniture, Decorative hardware, Toilets, Bollards, etc.), Public art (Monuments, Art objects, Wall paintings, Relief, etc.), Greenery systems, Landscaping materials / Play ground equipment and other exterior materials
  10. Software CAD / CG, Software for cost estimation and management, Databases, etc.
  11. Design / Construction related Drawing products, Measurement machines, Tools, Construction techniques, Home repair / improvement systems, Prefabricated structures, Construction related goods and service, etc.
  12. Facility equipment Air conditioning / Ventilation equipment, Water heaters, Solar heating, Kitchen Appliances, Bathroom / Bath accessories, Plumbing equipment, Elevators, Lighting, Disaster prevention equipment, Mailboxes, Home automation devices, Parking facilities, etc.
  13. Energy Saving, Energy Creation and Energy Storage Materials / Facilities Heat insulating, heat shielding, well shielded material / paints, Natural ventilation system, Roof & Wall greening, Natural lighting system, Cool & Heat storage materials, Energy management system, Solar power, Fuel battery / Rechargeable battery, Others
  14. Information / Publishing / Consulting / Franchise recruitment
  15. Others

< House Remodeling Zone > Various building materials, equipment and software for remodeling of a detached or a multiple dwelling house, Maintenance and inspection services, Relevant information and publications, Consulting, Looking for sales agents or franchisees, etc.

< Quake Resistant, Vibration Control and Base isolation Zone > Quake resistant materials and Reinforce member, Vibration Control and Base isolation system and method, Earthquake countermeasure facilities and service, etc.

< Photocatalytic Products Zone > Various architecture-related products using photocatalytic technology

< Domestic Lumber Zone > Various architectural materials using domestic lumber, Kitchen, Bathro

The Nikkei Messe is one of Asia’s largest events with the emphasis on energy efficient, ecological friendly technologies to achieve environmentally friendly urban design and construction. There were about 1200 exhibitors. Show participants include architects, designers and builders as well as representatives of international and local Japanese governments.


AFPA Booth and Big Site Evening Light Show

Excerpt from Dalibor Houdek’s  FPInnovations Report

In the zone of living with wood, there was number of wood flooring manufacturers and wood accents such as fighting shades made of wood, wooden furniture. There was also couple of manufacturers showing light weight panels (corrugated wood) for manufacture of furniture and interior applications.

On the Building with Wood applications zone, not surprisingly, the majority of the exhibitors were showcasing structural systems that reinforce the wood construction in case of an earthquake of offered competitive steel solutions for shear walls. The focus appeared to be on how to ensure performance of the shear walls for repeated earthquake occurrences. This seems very important as places like Japan have very seismically active environment and it is important for the buildings to maintain their structural performance and integrity in repeated earthquake events without major structural repairs following the earthquake. Japan has developed many systems that support wood structures as well and other building systems to perform well in earthquake situations.


Japan Home Show Posted by Jim Ivanoff BCWood japan

This year’s show was held from March 3 through 6 and we once again had a strong group of members and Canada Wood partners in the BC Wood organized Canadian pavilion. The products showcased ranged from structural lumber and engineered wood to finishing materials, furniture, and log home packages. We maintained our WRC inspired central reception display, which featured traditional Japanese wood connection, art created by the famous Japanese designer Hiroyuki Takamura. This space always draws in show visitors both with its visual as well as aromatic appeal.

The power of the Nikkei Newspaper brand and organization always ensures that this will be a well-attended show. This year saw a 2% increase in visitors for a total of 210,610 over the four days. It is important to note that this show is for industry professionals only so the attendance is not inflated by consumers. The show is very popular with architects and designers and in particular those involved with commercial and retail space design. We were not only happy to see the increase in attendance, but also the improvement in the mood of the attendees. At last year’s show, the impending tax increase was on everyone’s minds, but this year people were looking forward to renewed growth as the immediate effects of the tax increase have receded.

For the 2014 GBM, we worked very closely with Japan’s CLT Association to put on the Wood First tour. Based on the success of that collaboration, we once again partnered with them to put on a CLT seminar at the Canadian Embassy in Tokyo on the first night of the Nikkei Show.

The speakers included a Japanese engineer who explained to the audience the buildings we had visited on the GBM 2014 tour as well as Colin Chornohus of Structurlam Products who talked about the newly built Wood Innovation and Design Centre in Prince George. Colin’s presentation was highly anticipated by the audience of 170 architects, engineers, general contractors, and importers. While we and our Canadian partners were extremely pleased with this very large turnout of key influencers in the Japanese large-scale wood building market, the Japan CLT Association was ecstatic with this tremendous profile that we were able to give to the emerging CLT market. It is clear that due to seismic and fire concerns, CLT is the future of large-scale wood buildings in Japan and through such collaborative efforts BC Wood is helping to move this forward.Dan Wilkinson, on behalf of Alberta ESRD and the AFPA, led off the seminar with an overview of Alberta’s forest industry and products


March 3 2-5 pm Meeting Alberta Trade Office

Prior to the Canadian seminar met with Alberta Trade Office Managing Director Mr. David Anderson, Kaori Umemoto, Commercial Officer, Shinichi Tsujioi Trade Commissioner. We discussed the general situation in Japan and its relation to Canada and Alberta in term of trade focusing predominantly on wood products and building systems. 2015 is also a year that marks 35 years of Hokkaido – Alberta cooperation as sister provinces. There is a series of events under consideration including activities related to forest industry and building products. Hokkaido has a large wood industry and wood building culture with 30% of buildings in Hokkaido made of wood (Japan’s average is 10%).

The tentative timing for the Alberta Hokkaido event is November 25-27, 2015 following Japan Home Show on November 16-20. Executing an event will require resources and with New Elections in Alberta and the shrinking budget, further planning will need to be done once there is more financial certainty in 2015/2016 fiscal year. Further discussions with ESRD are required as they were not able to travel to japan this trip.

Potential seminar topics include: 1)How to make wood buildings last? (Japan’s wood construction typically only lasts about 25 years).2)Energy efficiency of wood buildings (hi interest to Japan the first Net Zero home in Japan was built in 2010). 3)Tall buildings out of wood (Japan has a dense population so taller multifamily buildings are of interest).

At subsequent discussions held in Hokkaido with 2×4 builders association, there was interest in exchanging information on forestry and forest management practices. Hokkaido is one of the major commercial natural timber areas in Japan.

Site Visit Shingu Shoko Mr. Kazuji Abe, General Manager and Mr. Manabu Kawamura, Building Material Section Manager Provided intro about AFPA, FPI and Alberta forest industry.


SSL is currently purchasing some Alberta lumber (High Prairie Forest Products (West Fraser) and Millar Western via lnterex FP). SSL visited Alberta about 7-8 years ago (met with Buchanan Lumber at the time). SSL have several divisions including Tokyo, Osaka plus wood division in Sapporo. #1 importer of hardwood in Japan (from US). Within Sapporo division the main activity is products distribution to builders and wall panel producers throughout Hokkaido (also Supply to DAITO largest rental housing builder in Japan). 70% of product volume include SPF, OSB and plywood.$80M/year business and about $30M is represents softwood plywood from Tokyo. Three months ago, SSL established its own panel plant. In addition to distributing lumber of other wood products, SSL also distributed small forestry equipment (e.g. chainsaws), wood stoves, finishes and stains.Also import thermally modified wood (pine from Europe and ash from US). The prices for thermally modified wood are lower that is they were importing naturally durable wood specie such as IPE.They also supply small volume to window sector in Japan. However, most windows are aluminum followed by vinyl with very little wood windows on the market.

Meeting with Johnson Homes (JH) Otani Shu


Hokkaido builder with production of 250-300 homes/year (SO homes 2×4 style from Canadian lumber the rest is traditional post and beam made of European glulam made to Japanese specs). Johnson Homes is a subsidiary of housing Yamachi. Yamachi procures and distributes wood products to the Johnson Home factories.

JH operates a panel plant in Hokkaido and belongs to a group (partner in Hiroshima KIPRO) that produces total of 600 homes.

Used to import windows from Edmonton but now they buy them in Winnipeg.

Also purchase vinyl window extrusions from Quebec and some fibreglass windows.

JH is always on a lookout for contemporary building products that enhance appearance.

Also interested in fire resistant siding. Used cement board Certiguarded Cedar (cedar with fire retardant).

JH buys ISOVER insulation from Toronto and they also use spray foam polyurethane insulation.

The company focus is single family residential construction but they also have interest in daycare centres, lifestyle buildings and senior wellness.

Based on the feedback from JH’s 30 franchisees they expect the 2×4 market to remain flat.

Housing Yamachi Co. Lt.

Company Profile

Sector: Materials

Industry: Construction Materials

Sub-Industry: Wood Building Materials

Housing Yamachi Co,Ltd. was founded in 1996. The Company’s line of business includes distributing lumber, plywood, and millwork.

Currently the Japanese lumber market is sluggish however the housing market for 2015 shows signs of improvement compared to 2014.

Japans population is decreasing and aging. The population in Japan is predicted to be less than 87million by 2060 (currently it sits above 127M.)

Meeting with Showa Lumber Corp. (SLC}

Mr. Hironori Takahashi

SLC operates wall panel plant producing 5-8 2×4 homes per month plus traditional precut Post and Beam packages approximately 90-100/month.

Also make packages for commercial non-residential construction as the non-re construction market for wood is growing. However, on public buildings in Hokkaido, the builders are required to use locally grown wood (larch and Hokkaido spruce). The Hokkaido grown timber is better than the wood from other parts of Japan. The larch that is used for studs splits easily when nailed.

For HLC now the residential construction represents 20% of their production (post and beam) using European glulam in Japanese sizes.

Purchase lumber from Tolko, Weyco, West Fraser and other large suppliers and OSB from Ainsworth


 Mr. Hironori Takahashi

Housing packages pre-cut and packaged to deliver to house site. Use CNC technology for post and beam assemblies.

 Meeting with lwakura Corporation (IC)

Mr. Kunihiko Takenaka, General Manager ,Mitsuo Hasui Executive Director

IC operates a panel plant produces about 300 units with 34 employees in the panel plant, consuming 10,000 m3/year. They purchase 95% of their OSB from Ainsworth. The plant runs at capacity from April to December but the first quarter of the year it only runs at 50% capacity (single shift). At one point used to run two shifts producing 450 units but the market slowed down for single family homes.

Aside from their panel plant, they build and manage a number of commercial properties, they produce MDF board for resale, produce and provide a large assortment of interior finishing and building accessories.

They have side businesses in landscaping, wood pellet production and log and timber import and distribution.

Like many companies they maintain a woodlands department and harvest and reforest company forests in the region.

Now are building 23 apartments which they manage as rentals.

Over last year, 32,000 units were built in Hokkaido Prefecture but IC sees that the market for 2×4 construction is shrinking.

2×4 type home has to be built to a standard that requires defined performance however for traditional post and beam structure does not have meet any particular standard.

Japanese government put lots of effort into CLT development using local wood but it is very expensive about 6 times the conventional structural system.

The concern for the wood construction sector going forward is that when Chinese markets picks up the price of J-Grade will go up considerably.

Some government incentives are linked to use of domestic wood and that excludes wood importers to participate in these projects.

 Snowmeggedon (on site visits around Sapporo. Stranded as flights cancelled for a full day)


The Canada Wood Group

Japan Economy, Housing & Lumber Shipments

By Shawn Lawlor

Director, Canada Wood Japan

June 5, 2015

Posted in: Japan, Market News

Japan’s Economy Posting Moderate Recovery & Household Savings Top Record

Exceeding analyst expectations, the Japanese economy registered an annualized growth rate of 2.4% between January and March 2015. The positive news pushed the Nikkei 225 Index to its highest level since April of 2000. The increase marks the second straight quarter of growth. The turnaround in the Japanese equity market since Prime Minister Shinzo Abe came to power has dramatically helped increase average household wealth. The average household savings for a family unit of 2 or more people increased to a high of 17.98 million yen or the approximate of CAD $180,000.

Japan Housing Starts Summary 

March 2015

For the first time in 13 months, total Japanese housing starts registered into positive territory. Total housing starts edged up 0.7% to finish at 69,887 units. Total wooden starts increased 3.7% to 38,252 units.

By construction method post and beam starts finished 4.1% higher at 28,239 units, wooden pre-fabricated housing declined 6.6% to 1,077 units and platform frame starts posted a 3.8% gain to end at 8,936 units. Within 2×4 starts owner occupied units increased 5.6% to 2,386 units, built for sale spec homes increased 10% to 1,155 units and rentals increased 1.9% to 5,390 units.

B.C. Softwood Exports to Japan

March B.C. softwood exports Japan totaled 202,712m3 compared to year prior results of 71,600m3. (Note the March 2014 results were impacted by the Vancouver truckers strike) Year to date through until the end of March, BC Softwood exports totaled 508,651m3 for a value of $178.6 million compared to shipments of 418,523m3 and a value of $148 million in Q1 2014. Year to date SPF shipments totaled 339,346m3 for $101.4 million compared to 246,332m3 and a value of $70 million in 2014.

Japan 2X4 Housing Association visit hyperlink for further information on the association

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