This paper discusses the birth of both large-span timber structures and computational design in Japan through the examination of a series of cutting-edge projects designed by Japanese Architect Shoei Yoh in the 1980s. Although Shoei Yoh (1940–) has achieved limited appreciation as an innovator of large span timber structures in Japan and for computational design within the international computational design community, a wider appreciation of his significant legacy has been largely missing. This paper uses field visits, in depth interviews and a newly developing archive of his work to examine the underappreciated legacy of this avant-garde architect. The distinct oeuvre and innovations of Shoei Yoh emerged in the town of Oguni in Kyushu, Japan, which is famous for its cedar industry and forests. Through close collaboration with local politicians and industry, Yoh addressed the need for economical and functional building methods that were radical for their time and predated the event of large-scale timber construction and computational design by more than two decades. The local cultural context of Oguni was fertile ground for Yoh’s design innovation and this is evident from timber projects which include: 1.) the Music Atelier 2.) the Oguni Dome. Through collaborations, Yoh developed technical solutions to realize large three-dimensional timber space trusses utilising new joints and other innovations as in the Oguni Dome. These new forms and technologies were made possible through the pioneering use of computational programming.