Steve's book - Japan incorporated

in this sentence: “I was involved in initiating a program to introduce the North American platform frame wood building system to Japan.”
What’s a platform frame? I couldn’t understand the phrase although I know all the words in it…

It is simply the technical term for a type of building system using wood. A frame system is different from a post and beam building system. You can google for more info if you are interested. The platform frame system is standard in North America.

Thank you a lot, Steve, Wikipedia helped me on this.
I’m always amazed when thinking of an entire rich population as yours or the Japanese one making use of wood houses.
Here in Brazil most houses are made of bricks covered with a lump which is a mix of cement, water and sand. The structure (or frame) is made of concrete. Around here, wood houses are only for very poor people.
Some few companies sell pre-fabricated wood houses, but they are too rare and don’t make much success because of the cultural association between wood houses and poverty. Also, we tend to thing of them as being fragile.
What you could say about other countries habits in respect to house buildings? Could it be a linguist podcast topic? Sounds interesting…

I think the reason why wooden houses are popular in Japan is because we have a lot of earthquakes. The iron-frame reinforced concrete buildings resist earthquakes the best, but they are too expensive for general houses. I think wooden houses are more tolerant of the shake of the earthquakes than brick houses. Actually we don’t see companies selling brick houses in Japan. However, Japanese people seem to like the feel of the bricks and I noticed in the interior magazines that a lot of people use bricks as their interior decors. Because Japan has a lot of trees and made wooden houses traditionally, I think we like wooden houses and we have some respects for them.

Wooden structures, long popular in Japan and North America, are gaining in popularity in Europe, not only in Scandinavia where they are traditional, but also in Britain, Germany and even France. I can tell you, after one month in France, that my wooden house here is much more comfortable than the concrete houses I lived in in France.

Any building system is more a matter of how well the structures are made, structurally, and in terms of insulation and dealing with air and moisture issues. This can all be done quite inexpensively and effectively with wood, using modern technology.

Wooden houses resist earthquakes much better than brick or concrete, as long as they are built properly.

And wood is more environmentally sound. It uses less energy, both in building and in the life of the house in mos cases.

Thanks, Steve and Emma, for your explanations.

I didn’t know about best resistance to earthquakes. Also, my intuition about environmental soundness was just the opposite of yours, Steve! I was just ‘counting’ the needed trees, but I never thought about energy balance…

But in terms of comfort, I believe it is all about how much money do you invest in the house. In ohter words, with enough money, it’s possible to have a concrete or a wooden house as comfortable as you want. Of course, I have no idea of the difference in prices between similar houses made of wood or bricks, but I guess it depends heavily on the place you are going to build it.

Well, in the end it’s probably a matter of taste, or even cultural usage.

Trees grow. The temperate coniferous forest, the source of most structural lumber, is growing much faster than it is being harvested. It is larger now than at any time in the last few hundred years.

Look at Germany, which used to be a major importer of lumber, is now a major exporter. Environmentalists attack logging which is often less damaging to the environment than farming. I understand that the problem in Brazil is that the forest land gets converted into agricultural land in many cases. That is not the case in the temperate coniferous forest where it is gaining back land that had gone to farming in previous generations.

There are 7 billion people in the world. They have to eat, and the have to live somewhere.

That’s a good news I didn’t know. Forests gaining back its land!
You’re sure, here there is a serious concern about our big tropical forest, most of it because of cattle creation, which I particulary find even worse than agriculture. (although I’m not vegetarian!)
Your considerations seem quite reasonable for me, and because you have worked with these materials, I believe you know much more than me about this.
Anyway, when I started this discussion, I was mostly interested in the cultural aspect of house building, even though I agree that an environmental concern makes sense in this case too.
I’m not against wooden houses. They only seem a little odd to me. In Brazil, mainly for cultural habits I would not buy one of them, but probably if I would live in Canada or the US or even in Japan I would certainly adapt myself to it without major problems.

Hi everyone,
My house is a wooden house. It’s very old, over 100 years old. My house is a typical Japanese style wooden house and still survive under many earthquakes for many years. Liveing in the wooden house is more comfortable in hot summer.
You can see my house photo here,

Main parts of the wooden stracture are very big and we often use them when we rebuilt the house. It means I don’t know how old these main parts of my house. Maybe 200 years or 300 years old.
I like my wooden house. I hope it survives under the future earthquake.


Wow, what tremendous photos of your house, area and the many friends that you have hosted. Thanks!