Before and after big shows, we try to spend
as much time as possible taking around members to visit clients and see job
sites. We again did this for Nikkei 2009 and I feel as if I did an all Japan
Of the places I went to, the most
interesting was Naha in Okinawa. While I was only there for 8 hours before I
had to fly off to Fukuoka to set-up for another show, I was able to learn a lot
from talking to builders and looking around the city.
The typical home in Okinawa is built out of
concrete which I knew, but I was surprised to learn that traditionally homes
were built from wood and not brick or stone. The switch occurred after the war
as a result of the American fire-bombing of the island that burnt down all of
the forests. Without a local timber supply, concrete became the only option.
Unfortunately as concrete became the norm,
consumers developed an image that wooden homes were not suitable for Okinawa.
Now the 3 main wood frame builders in Naha are joining forces to raise the
profile of wood construction amongst consumers. This new association is also
looking to Canada Wood to help them in this effort.
Going around Naha I got to see many
examples of the concrete homes as well as the traditional tile roofs. Tile
roofing is common throughout Japan, but in Okinawa they are a lot more
colourful. The use of bright colours extended to even mid-rise condominiums.
Bright orange condos are almost unthinkable in Tokyo these days, but fit
perfectly with Okinawa’s tropical image.