B.C. log home maker has deep roots in Japan

Reconstruction continues in fishing village wiped off map by tsunami's wall of water

Vendors set out fresh produce at Yuriage Morning Market

One of a series of articles on the future of the B.C. forest industry. For more #BCForestFuture stories see index below or search for the hashtag on Facebook or Twitter.

NATORI, JAPAN – Wayne Brown winds through the Sunday crowd at Yuriage Morning Market, as vendors hawk fresh fish, vegetables, hand-crafted knives and other local products.

Brown’s company, Baywest Log and Timber Homes, was one of the B.C. firms that donated specialty wood products to rebuild the market after the fishing village was wiped off the map by the Fukushima earthquake and tsunami that struck eastern Japan in 2011.

Reconstruction continues after the village of 5,000 people was hit by a wall of water cresting at eight metres high. About 1,000 people were killed, and five years later the site is being diked and raised by five metres before anyone can move back in.

But the public market, built as part of a reconstruction project by the Canadian forest industry and the federal and B.C. governments, has risen from the devastation. An internationally known symbol of tsunami recovery, the market draws 50 per cent more customers today than it did as the heart of a community.

“To me it represents cooperation and the way people will jump in after a disaster and help restore some normalcy to people’s lives, to get people working again,” Brown said.

Brown is no stranger to Japanese culture. His company was formerly Bigfoot Manufacturing, owned by a Japanese firm before being taken over by Baywest a year ago.

The heart of the Yuriage market is the Canada-Tohoku Friendship Pavilion, known locally as Maple Hall. Rectangular manufactured logs from Baywest’s mill at Tappen, near Salmon Arm, and engineered wood beams from Penticton-based Structurlam are key components.

Post-and-beam construction has a centuries-old tradition in Japan, one of the most earthquake-prone places on Earth. Today the rustic look of manufactured log homes is growing in popularity, first as vacation homes and today as primary residences.

Baywest buys rectangular cants from B.C. primary producers, kiln dries them and turns them into log home kits, ready to ship and assemble. Brown said the company has built 6,000 homes for the Japan market alone in the past 15 years.

Wayne Brown tours Yuriage Morning Market in Natori, one of the communities destroyed by the Fukushima earthquake and tsunami in 2011. The market has become an international symbol of recovery from the disaster.

Yuriage Morning Market CEO Koichi Sakurai explains the revival of his community and its gratitude to Canada for the reconstruction effort, Nov. 27, 2016.

Natori’s deputy mayor explains to Forests Minister Steve Thomson (left) and Shawn Lawlor of Canada Wood Japan how the monument to the 2011 earthquake symbolizes a growing plant, built to the same height as the eight-metre crest of the tsunami.

Maple Hall is the heart of the Yuriage public market, attracting families from around the region.

Rick Jeffery, CEO of Coast Forest Products Association and chair of Canada Wood, stands at entrance to Maple Hall, constructed of wood products donated by B.C. producers and financed by the B.C. and Canadian governments.

Just Posted

More B.C. ambulance service needed in the North: Hospital chief of staff

Fort St. James physicians talk about the need for easier access to healthcare

Broken axle caused New Hazelton train derailment: TSB

It could happen again without a different way to inspect trains

Cullen remains uncertain about political future

Says he’ll make decision in early March

Terrace resident’s bill banning single-use plastics introduced in Ottawa

MP Nathan Cullen’s presented Ben Korving’s private member’s bill Wednesday

B.C. BUDGET: Surplus $374 million after bailouts of BC Hydro, ICBC

Growth projected stronger in 2020, Finance Minister Carole James says

National Energy Board approves Trans Mountain pipeline again

Next step includes cabinet voting on the controversial expansion

Girl heard saying ‘Help my Dad’ in suspicious radio message on Vancouver Island

Police asking for help following mysterious signals from somewhere between Comox and Sayward

Reports of rashes prompt closure of all Harrison Hot Springs pools

Public pool available after Fraser Health shut down all five mineral pools until further notice

No treatment for highly infectious measles, says doctor

10 cases of measles confirmed in Vancouver as of Friday

Two more measles cases confirmed in Vancouver

It brings the number of total cases within the city connected to the outbreak to ten

B.C. Special Olympics officially underway in Vernon

Athlete’s Oath: “Let me win. But if I cannot win, let me be brave in the attempt.”

Vancouver Aquarium wants your help to name a baby killer whale

The public helped name Springer’s first calf, Spirit, and is being asked to help with the second

Guards protest firing of fellow officers charged with assault at B.C. prison

Corrections officers demonstrated in Maple Ridge on Friday afternoon

Skier dies at Revelstoke Mountain Resort

Cause of death for young man has not been released

Most Read