Our Building Projects
Japanese Timber Framers
One of the features we envisioned for the new building was timber framing. The question was, "Who would do it?" The Lord arranged for Mark and Mariko to meet and become friends with an exceptionally talented and experienced Japanese traditional timber framer. They had opportunity to visit with him in Japan in March 2008 and the timber frame planning process proceeded from there.
Let us introduce the lead carpenter on our project. His full name is Yoshitomo Takahashi. While he was still a “lost youth” in junior high school, he had the opportunity to see some traditional timber framers repairing the framework of Kiyomizu Tera, a famous temple in Kyoto (first built in 778 AD and then rebuilt several times in the following centuries after fires, with its current incarnation being accomplished in 1633). With that one experience he became fascinated in the art of traditional wood joinery and decided that that was what he wanted to do as soon as he graduated from high school.
Dejected after initially being turned down as an apprentice in Kyoto, he started the long trip back to Tokyo on his motorbike. After riding for some time, he looked up from his glumness and saw a sign for a temple timber framing company. With nothing to lose, he went inside and implored them to take him on as an apprentice. They did.
After four years of strict apprenticeship as a temple framer, he spent an additional two years apprenticing as a traditional tea ceremony house builder, delving deeply into the complex psychology of design that balances proportion with detail in studied simplicity. The result is a subtle unobtrusiveness that defines the beauty of tea houses and Japanese gardens and explains why their designers and builders are so respected.
Takahashi-san finally launched his own timber framing company where he has continued to perfect his own style of traditional framing. More recently, he has become famous even outside of the timber framing community, having been featured on TV and at various events.
The name of his company is Kominkakoubou. His company's website is
Takahashi-san is a quiet and thoughtful person. He has a wife and three daughters who have stuck with him through thick and thin as he has fought to re-establish the value of traditional joinery in the building community. We were very thankful for the opportunity to see him demonstrate his craft.
Takahashi-san came to Harvest Haven to participate in a week of meetings and project planning in December 2008. He returned in June of 2010 to instruct, direct, and aid in the joinery and erection of the timbers for the store. To see how the work progressed, go to Timber Frame Workshop So Far, Timber Frame Workshop Conclusion, and Adding Flesh to the Bones.
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Kitami-san was the assistant framer on our project. While he does not work for Takahashi-san's company, whenever Takahashi-san finds himself on a project and in need of another set of capable hands, Kitami-san is who he calls.
Kitami-san grew up in rural northern Chiba prefecture, east of Tokyo, and had ambitions of becoming a carpenter from an early age. His interest and skills in traditional timber framing were learned while working on heritage site building renovations where he saw both the good and bad aspects of traditional construction techniques. His goal is to implement the positive aspects of traditional timber framing into home construction today and to ensure that valuable skills learned over centuries of experience are passed on to the next generation.