Japan’s Falling Yen Helps Drive New Timber Wave Across Asia

Yuichiro Shinohara, CEO and President of Shinohara Shoten will be a keynote speaker at Australia's TimberConstruct conference in August.

Fri 05 Jul 24


Japan is the world’s fourth-largest importer of timber products—behind just China, the United States, and the European Union—with the world’s third-largest economy imported more than 3,340,000 cubic metres of lumber last year.

At the same time that imports remain strong, Japan is also cutting down millions of cypress trees, changing building standards, and investing in high-value timber production. The upshot is that the Japanese timber industry is booming, with mid-rise mass timber buildings rising fast across Tokyo and work underway on the World Expo site in Osaka—which, naturally, is being built out of timber.

Last week, Wood Central exclusively spoke to Yuichiro Shinohara, CEO and President of Shinohara Shoten, one of Japan’s largest timber fabricators. Shinohara Shoten supplies timber to more than 4,000 projects every year.

The enormous roof was fabricated by Shinohara Shoten, one of Japan's largest timber fabricators. (Photo Credit: Japan Sport Council)
The enormous roof was fabricated by Shinohara Shoten, one of Japan’s largest timber fabricators. (Photo Credit: Japan Sport Council)

“About 80% of our market is residential construction, with 20% (growing) into the non-residential mass timber market,” Mr Shinohara said, including the Tokyo Olympic Stadium’s roof, which included 108 glulam pieces interwoven into a steel roof.

“We are developing a one-stop solution for mass timber construction across Japan”

Yuichiro Shinohara, CEO and President of Shinohara Shoten

With four companies integrating precutting, design, and sales operations, Shinohara Shoten provides a one-stop service. “Not only addressing the traditional demand for new constructions, but we have also proactively entered the renovation and remodelling markets, solidly expanding our business field and contributing to the advancement of the wood construction industry,” Mr Shinohara said.

But that is just in Japan, with the fabrication giant capitalising on 40 years of expertise to fuel the growing Asia-Pacific mass timber market.

Japan is now a critical sales point for mass timber solutions across the region, capitalising on favourable exchange rates. “We are also an import and export company and are now supplying mass timber solutions to the region,” he said. “We offer direct procurement of wood from lumber factories and laminated wood factories worldwide inventory management and trading functions to support precutting wood operations.”

As a result, Shinohara Shoten “is now using knowledge to provide its technology at a good price,” Mr Shinohara said, adding that “Japan is (now) a cheap country, with a proven record at delivering solutions at scale.”

Many of these projects are visionary, “including an 8-storey all-timber building, which did not use any steel or concrete,” Mr Shinohara said. “The system took two years to design and one year to assemble on site.”

Leading up to the Timber Construct conference next month, Wood Central Publisher Jason Ross interviewed Yuichi Shinohara, CEO and President of Shinohara Shoten. Footage courtesy of @woodcentralau.

According to Andrew Dunn, Timber Construct organiser, Japan is leading the way in timber-led construction. Japanese-owned conglomerates build giant build-to-rent projects in Australia, the US, and Europe using mass timber construction systems designed in Japan.

“This is why we are thrilled to have Yuichi Shinohara, from Shinohara Shoten Co Ltd, who will be one of our keynote speakers at Timber Construct,” Mr Dunn said. Mr Shinohara will join Nick Milestone (from Mercer USA) and Xu Fang (from SEC/APA/SFPA in China) to discuss Australasia and the Pacific Visionary Timber Projects.

“So far, we have 39 presenters already lined up,” Mr Dunn said, with the Melbourne event “focused on materials and design, prefabrication, and building techniques.”

“Early bird tickets close on July 15, 2024,” Mr Dunn said, “so secure your early bird tickets before it is too late.”


  • Jason Ross

    Jason Ross, publisher, is a 15-year professional in building and construction, connecting with more than 400 specifiers. A Gottstein Fellowship recipient, he is passionate about growing the market for wood-based information. Jason is Wood Central's in-house emcee and is available for corporate host and MC services.


Related Articles