Market Overview

BC and Canada have a long-standing presence in the Japanese market and are widely recognized as leading players in supplying wood products to Japan’s residential construction sector.

While Japan’s aging population has led to a decline in single-family housing starts, government policies encouraging wood use in hybrid, multi-family/multi-storey, and non-residential construction have opened doors for BC wood products within these segments.

Together, FII and its partners are working to sustain BC’s market share in Japan by protecting the strong Canadian brand and expanding wood use beyond traditional segments.

Photo: Canada Japan Wood Conference at Tokyo International Forum | Credit: Canada Wood Japan

Key Stats


wood housing starts on average each year


largest global market for BC’s value-added sector


largest market for BC lumber

Why Japan?

  • Large, high-value market for BC
  • Strong Canadian brand for more than 40 years
  • Growing opportunities in non-residential sector
  • Sophisticated market with demand for coastal species, S-P-F, value-added and wood pellets
Photo: Donguri-Anne Public Library, Japan | Credit: Canada Wood Japan

Market Priorities

  • Encourage wood use through engaging policymaking around codes and standards
  • Increase market share of single and multi-family residential construction
  • Develop the non-residential construction segment
  • Target niche markets for the value-added sector, particularly in resort, agriculture and reform sectors
  • Continue to build upon Canada’s growing market-share within the wood pellets sector
Photo: Canadian delegation to Japan, Seiwa Corporation 2×4 apartment site visit | Credit: Canada Wood Japan

Strategic Approach

Since 2003, the Canada Wood Group has been leading market development programming with support from FII. Efforts are focused on overcoming barriers to wood use, increasing capacity in wood construction and design, and promoting the use of wood building systems in targeted sectors. Support for BC’s value-added sector is encouraged through in-market promotions and continued work on codes and standards to achieve acceptance of new building solutions.

Photo: Ferichetamamura International Elementary School, Gunma prefecture | Credit: Gunma Felice Academy.

Featured Projects

2x4 campaign reaches new heights

The COVID-19 pandemic has kept many potential new home buyers from visiting display homes. As an alternative, purchasers in Japan are going online to research home buying options.
The Council of Forest Industries’ (COFI’s) 2×4 campaign, now in its sixth year, capitalized on this trend by using digital communications to encourage prospective home buyers to learn about the benefits of living in a 2×4 home and to consider homes built with B.C. lumber. The online campaign, which was promoted and amplified by 2×4 housing companies, designers and builders across Japan, ran from May to August 2021 and reached a total audience of 29,000 people. Over 6,000 buyers responded over the three months of the campaign.
Increasing the number of prospective home buyers that understand the benefits of 2×4 housing is essential to growing the market for wood-frame construction in Japan.

Photo: Social media promotional materials & 2×4 campaign website | Credit: Canada Wood Japan

Family Hospice Kyoto Kitayama House uses Canadian wood

Work done by Canada Wood Japan to expand wood use in the medical, elderly care and social welfare segment continues to show progress with both the number of wood buildings and height of these structures increasing.
The latest example is Family Hospice Kyoto Kitayama House, a 37 unit, four-storey 2×4 fire-resistant building with a total floor area of 1,767 m² and a height of 14.8 m. Approximately 320 m³ of structural wood products was utilized, including S-P-F dimension lumber, Canadian OSB along with domestic and engineered wood products.

Since Canada Wood first connected with Kairos & Company—the owner of the hospice—eight years ago, the company has opened more than a dozen hospices across Japan, all constructed with wood. Kyoto Kitayama House is the second four-storey wood-frame construction hospice the company has built in just the past year. With a number of additional wood-frame hospices in the planning stage, the company and the market segment are on the rise.

Photo: Hospice Kyoto Kitayama House | Credit: Mitsubishi Estate Housing Components Co., Ltd.

Expanding opportunities for S-P-F lumber beyond traditional markets

Government codes and policies; technological innovation in wood products and building design; the housing industry’s need to diversify in the face of changing demographics; and the construction industry’s growing interest in green building are combining to create exciting new opportunities for wood in Japan’s non-residential construction segment.
One such example is ARCHIVISION21’s new 6,564 m2 state-of-the-art prefabricated modular factory recently completed in Chitose, Hokkaido. The company chose to build with prefabricated nail plate trusses—1,758 in total—manufactured off-site with Canadian S-P-F dimension lumber. The reason: construction precision and speed. Because, when designing and constructing three post-and-beam structures that are each 131 m long and 16 m wide, it’s a big job and things need to be completed on time and efficiently.
The ARCHVISION21 project is another outcome of the collaboration between the Japan Wood Truss Council (JWTC) and COFI Japan which aims to expand nail plate truss and S-P-F lumber use beyond traditional markets and into the post-and-beam non-residential sectors.

Photo: ARCHIVISION21 Prefab Factory | Credit: ARCHIVISION21 Co., Ltd

Nail-laminated timber goes commercial

In October 2021, construction began on the newest Canada Wood demonstration initiative, the Tokyo University of the Arts International Exchange Centre, Japan’s first large-scale nail-laminated timber (NLT) project.

The ground-breaking five-storey midrise building incorporates an innovative hybrid design that combines elements of steel with wood construction. Built by Maeda Corporation Co., Ltd., the structure will feature extensive use of NLT floor panels encapsulated in steel-frame assemblies on the third, fourth and fifth floors, with the panels using approximately 85 m3 of 2×6 Canadian S-P-F.
The project, the result of three years of intensive Canada Wood technical development work, represents the first large-scale commercial application of NLT floor assemblies in the Japanese market. The building will serve as a case study to demonstrate that NLT is a cost-effective and practical design solution that can compete in the Japanese mass timber market, a segment that is forecast to reach an annual volume of 500,000 m3 by mid-decade.
Construction on the International Exchange Centre is expected to complete in October 2022.

A recent report by Canada Wood Japan found that 25 percent to 30 percent of total non-residential floor area in Japan could be built with wood. Increasing lumber use to this range from the current 10 percent market share would yield a net gain of 1.04 to 1.38 million m3 in annual structural wood demand.

Source: Beyond Housing: A Market Analysis of Timber Opportunities in Japanese Non-Residential
Construction, May 2020

Photo: NLT demonstration project job site at Tokyo University of the Arts | Credit: Canada Wood Japan

Hemlock – structural solutions in the nonresidential sector

Treated Canadian hemlock is being used for sill plates in the construction of a large elderly care home in Miyazaki Prefecture, the heartland of Japan’s domestic wood production.
Nursing Home Kumoitoso is a fire-resistant 2×4 structure that will have a floor area of 2,776 m² and house over 60 residents. The project is using a total of 39 m³ of Canadian hemlock sill plates in 4×4 sizes and 4 m lengths. While the building also includes domestic wood, the use of Canadian hemlock demonstrates that Canadian wood products can provide structural solutions for large non-residential projects, even in the most competitive environments.

Photo: Job site of Nursing Home Kumoitoso | Credit: Yoshitaka Architects Engineers & Consultants Co., Ltd

Big & Tall Wood Challenge Design Awards

Reflecting Canada’s role as a world leader in forestry and innovative wood building technology, the Council of Forest Industries and Canada Wood held the Big & Tall Wood Challenge Design Awards. This year’s competition, the fourth time the wood design challenge has been conducted, recognized the contributions being made by Japanese companies designing larger and taller wood buildings in Japan.
An expert panel of three judges, leading academics in the field of Japanese architecture and design, selected eight winning wooden building projects from a pool of applications—four large structures and four tall buildings all utilizing 2×4, post-and-beam or cross-laminated timber (CLT) construction.
The design awards competition not only expands the awareness of larger and taller wood structures in Japan, it also highlights Canada’s global leadership in accelerating the adoption of wood use in construction and the country’s commitment to using forests and the wood products cycle to help mitigate climate change and reduce carbon in construction.

Photo: COFI/Canada Wood Big & Tall Design Award winners, judges, and representatives of the Canadian Embassy and Canada Wood at the Award Ceremony on March 10, 2022 | Credit: Canada Wood Japan

BC Wood inspires the Japanese resort sector

BC Wood continues to position Canadian value-added products for opportunities in Japan’s growing resort market. Targeting developers and local government officials interested in learning how Canada has produced many of the world’s top resorts, BC Wood has been delivering technical resort seminars annually since 2020.
Three seminars took place in early 2022, all of which were conducted via a hybrid delivery model allowing attendees to participate remotely or in person in Tokyo (February) and in Niseko and Hakuba (March)—two of the country’s leading winter resorts. Through the three events combined, BC Wood delivered a total of 6.5 hours of educational content tailored to audiences of more than 290 architects, engineers, developers, government officials and members of the local resort communities.
Seminar topics have included content on building multi-purpose wood structures within local requirements, how mass timber can be utilized to create a carbon-neutral resort community and the sustainability of Canadian forest products. By using examples from B.C. such as the Whistler Public Library and Squamish Lil’Wat Cultural Centre, the seminars showcased B.C.’s leadership in innovative wood building systems and inspired the Japanese building and development community to consider the benefits of building with wood for upcoming projects such as preparations for the proposed Sapporo 2030 Winter Olympics.

Photo: Hakuba Town Multi-purpose Library concept | Hemsworth Architecture

The power of pellets

As the fastest-growing market in the world for wood pellets, Japan is a key focus for B.C. wood pellet producers and the Wood Pellet Association of Canada (WPAC).
In 2021, the Wood Pellet Association of Canada, with funding from FII, created five videos showing how pellets produced in B.C. from sustainably managed forests are enhancing forest health, contributing to local communities, displacing fossil fuels and helping international customers meet their climate change goals.
By taking viewers from the forests to the production facilities, the ports and the people in communities, the video series demonstrates the sector’s commitment to provide responsible, renewable and clean energy in B.C.’s key markets.
The videos will be posted on WPAC’s website,, and will be shared with Japanese customers (with potential to repurpose for other markets). Video topics include, Verifying sustainability, Transforming waste to clean energy, Responsible fibre use, How pellets are made and more.

Photo: Wood Pellet Association of Canada (WPAC)