Never Stop Building - Crafting Wood with Japanese Techniques
Crafting Wood with Japanese Techniques
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Notebook

A carpenter’s notebook. The Never Stop Building notebook page features semi regular updates and musings on carpentry, building, Japanese woodworking, craft culture, travel and other topics.

Returning to Japan: The Apprenticeship

After returning from my last pilgrimage to Japan during the summer of 2018, I had the fantastic fortune to meet Kohei Yamamoto and Jon Stollenmeyer of Somacousha in Okayama, Japan during the New York KEZ event hosted by Mokuchi. Having recently completed a 6 week whirl-wind tour up and down Japan visiting tons of historic buildings, tool shops, and carpenters, I was brimming with enthusiasm for the craft and eager to find a way to continue my training in Japan. While I have been very fortunate for the opportunity to complete various Japanese woodworking projects thus far in my career, I knew if I wanted to take Never Stop Building to the next level, I would need dedicated experience building whole buildings in the traditional style, and training at the source of my favored craft.

We hit it off and after many months of planning, discussing and and arranging of visa documents I am excited to finally be in Japan beginning a year-long apprenticeship with these wonderful craftsmen. Words fail to describe the meeting of the minds between us. Somacousha specializes in the “Ishibatate” or “standing on the stones” style of timber frame construction, using natural materials and traditional techniques to create structures of lasting elegance. Building in such a way that honors both the materials and environment is something which I deeply respect and hope to learn as much as possible while working with their team.

Somacousha’s work on the  Fukuyama Minka .

Somacousha’s work on the Fukuyama Minka.


I’ll be based out of Okayama, a land known for its sunshine, delicious fruit and Bizen pottery. Never Stop Building will temporarily cease taking on new commission work through the summer of 2019 during this apprenticeship. If you are interested in working together in the future, however, don’t hesitate to contact us. I hope to release the occasional video of projects on which we work, share some interesting things I pick up along the way. It’s time to put aside any prior notions and begin again!