Japanese ridge beam on Washington shore

I would like to publish here a mail I received from a lasdscape designer based in Portland.


Hello Iacopo,

I’ve enjoyed your newsletters and information about your business. I thought I’d share this with you, as I begin to design a small structure using this ridge beam I extracted from the driftwood on the SE Washington shoreline yesterday. I believe it certainly is from 2011 tsunami. I’d like to honor its history and journey by giving it a renewed use, following the lines it dictates.

As I research how

it was used, I wonder if you would have a resource for me to consult that could indicate a likely representation of its position within a structure? I may have it figured out, but a few comments from a carpenter there would be quite meaningful.

Than you for any consideration and dialog.


Jon Ensign
Portland, Oregon


I am so humbled and grateful! Thanks to this homepage I have the opportunity to get in touch with amazing people who share their passion for handcrafts and for japanese culture.
Life is wonderful! 😉

For the curious, here below is my answer:

Dear Jonathan:

Sorry for the delay in answering.
You story is very poetic and I am very grateful that you contacted me about the drift lumber.

No doubt it is a ridge beam.
I have a possible explanation about the holes on the top of the beam:
chances are the original roof structure had an extension to allow the smoke to escape (kemuri-nuke)

Please see the images below.

Japanese traditional homes did not have a fireplace connected with a chimney but rather an open brazier (called irori) and the smoke would reach the roof (no ceiling). The smoke was also helping the preservation of the wood structure against pests.

I will show the pictures to some carpenters I know and will contact you should there be any interesting additional information.

Best luck for you project and please keep us updated!

Bartok design Japan Co.
Manager: Iacopo Torrini