Over the past year and a half, BC Wood has been working with its Canada Wood partners in Japan to build large-scale wood structures under the Canada-Tohoku Reconstruction Project. The first of these buildings was a small library completed in January. The second project was the high-profile rebuilding of the Yuriage Market which was the largest fisherman’s/farmer’s market in northern Japan before the 3/11 tsunami. The beautiful new facilities were just opened to the public on May 4th during the Golden Week holidays.
Since 3/11, the association that manages Yuriage had been able to keep the market alive by renting space in a shopping mall parking lot just outside the devastated area. However, both the tenants and the customers wanted to see a return to the Yuriage site so that they could have proper facilities while also bringing economic activity back to the desolation left by the tsunami. In fact, this Canadian funded project became the first reconstruction effort in the area and thus now stands as a beacon of hope for this once thriving community.
Opening day saw over 15,000 people overflowing the Yurage Market grounds starting at 6:00am. By the time of the official opening ceremony at 11:00, many of the vendors were sold-out. Walking past the many stalls, it was wonderful to see locals benefiting from our contribution. In fact, as Canadian delegates went past, you could hear a chorus of “arigato” from the vendors matched with heart-warming smiles. Many member companies worked hard supplying materials for this project and it made me very proud to see the results of all our efforts.
The market consists of three areas. The largest building is the “Maple Pavilion” which was constructed using Douglas fir glulam posts and beams while finished in high-quality WRC paneling, siding, and decking in addition to engineered white oak flooring and CLT panels used in a decorative application. The Maple Pavilion will be used as a food court and outdoor seating area in addition to being a gallery documenting the history of Yuriage as well as Canada’s contributing to its reconstruction. The main shops are housed in two long 2×6 structures, also clad in WRC, each with seven individual stalls. In front of these is an open area for additional vendors to set-up in tents. The market association is now applying for loans to build permanent structures there as well, which are also planned to be constructed using Canadian building products.
During this fiscal year, one more large project will be undertaken with the remaining funds from this initiative. Prior to the tsunami, many of the commercial buildings in this area were drab concrete structures. The Canada-Tohoku Reconstruction Projects will serve as demonstration projects of how Canadian wood products and technology can be utilized in developing warm and inviting facilities that encourage people to return.