This blog will be a little departure from my usual blog but will still have some relevance to woodlots. I have just returned from a business trip to Japan.  I recently retired from my forestry position with the Prince Edward Island government and started my own marketing company.   My company is called Sunset Trading Company and will focus on representing, primarily, building products from Atlantic Canada in the Japanese market, which was the reason for my visit.

While in Japan I visited the city of Sendai. This is a thriving city that is near the coastal community that was devastated by the giant tsunami that followed the Great East Japan Earthquake in March, 2011.   Although we did not go directly to the affected area we were only a few kilometres away.   I was there to seek partnerships with local businesses to provide construction solutions for the reconstruction of the affected area. During my stay, I saw a sign in my hotel lobby that really spoke to me. That sign showed the city of Sendai as being the centre of HOPE for this devastated region. I couldn’t help but think that we were not just possibly supplying products but we would be supplying Hope. Hope to people who badly need to begin to get their lives back. Many lives were lost that day in March, 2011 and many more lives were shattered. Thousands of homes and businesses gone!

Sign on wall of hotel in Sendai. The “Hope” word is the location of the city of Sendai in the Tohoku Region of Japan close to the most devastated area of the March 2011 earthquake and tsunami. The Japanese words roughly translate as “Lets be Together”.

This sign got me thinking about the products I was representing and how they can give renewed hope. If we supplied just one product, used in one house, that is installed by one person from the region, then we are giving hope. This person would be paid for their work and would hope to build more homes. This pay cheque would be the basis for this person to make a living and support a family. This would be hope in action. I began to realize that we would be providing hope for families back in my area as well. We would be creating opportunities for employment to harvest trees, truck the logs, saw the logs into lumber, dry the lumber in a kiln and manufacture the lumber into a product such as flooring. Every time that wood was touched by hands there was someone receiving a pay cheque and having hope for long-term employment.  Back in Sendai there would a family living in temporary relief housing that would have hope for a new “home”.  Hope for a new beginning and for businesses to return to the region they call “Home”.

Evening meeting at the showroom of Jyukasoken (http://jyukasoken.com/). This company specializes in sales of Canadian products. Mr Anzai, the business owner, is shown on the right.

As a woodlot owner we do not often think about where the products from trees we grow may end up.  But, when we cut trees for saw logs the journey is just beginning.  Many people will handle the lumber from the trees that we grew with love and care.  We create hope for a lot of people along the way.  Wouldn’t it be great if we knew that some of wood from trees we grew would end up in products in a far away land.  Maybe even end up in a home in the tsunami damaged region of Japan.  It is possible!  If I am successful with my new business it is even probable that trees grown by Atlantic Canadians will end up as products that will be shipped to Japan.  An exciting journey from a humble beginning.  Just imagine, a new floor installed by a Japanese crafts person and enjoyed perhaps for generations by a Japanese family.  It is amazing to think that as woodlot owners we are creating the beginning step in so much “hope” for happiness and prosperity somewhere in the world.

Photographs posted in a train station showing the before and after scenes of the devastation caused by the earthquake and tsunami in March, 2011.

English sign at the train station telling that the photographs are there as a reminder of what has happened and what will happen again.

To my special friends in Japan and to the many crafts people I may never meet but who I hope will handle wood products from Atlantic Canada, I wish you all the best as reconstruction of the tsunami damaged region begins.  Hope can be one of the strongest human emotions and can help lift us up and overcome the most difficult obstacles.  Without Hope there is despair and despair can be the most damaging of all to the hearts and souls of people in the affected area.   “Lets be Together” and help create more hope and remove all despair.  On behalf of all Atlantic Canadian woodlot owners and wood product manufacturers in this region, we wish you, in the tsunami damaged region of Japan, Hope for a prosperous new beginning.

Until next time, keep safe and well.

***Click on any photograph to get a larger image***