In the last year or so, I’ve been working a lot on some wasen model scratch builds. There are the Hozugawa Ayubune, the Urayasu Bekabune, and others. In the meantime, my pile of Woody Joe kits keeps growing. So, I decided it’s time to get another one of these kits done. Luckily, Woody Joe kits are relatively quick builds.
The Kitamaebune or Kitamaesen kit is listed by Woody Joe as taking about 70 hours to build. Compare that to their more complex Higakikaisen kit, which takes about 50% longer to build. I spent about 3 months on that kit.
The Kitamaebune seems like it will take considerably less time to build the basic kit. But, this is the first bezaisen I’ve built since visiting Japan in 2016. There are a lot of details I managed to see up close on the Hakusan Maru, the bezaisen replica on Sado Island. So, I may put some extra work and time into this.
The Kitamaebune were large coastal transports similar to the Higaki Kaisen, but they were generally larger and traveled along the Japan Sea coast. While Higaki Kaisen carried cargo on a regular run between Osaka and Edo (Tokyo), the Kitamaebune picked up and dropped off cargo between ports along its route, and their captains conducted trade along the way.
So far, the Kitamaebune kit differs from the Higaki Kaisen kit in that it is built with an internal framework, similar to that of most wooden model ship kits. The Higaki Kaisen kit was made to mimic the structure of the actual vessel, which had no frames or keel in the western sense.
The kit goes together quite easily in the first 6 steps, with only a few things to look out for during construction. Primarily, this involves making sure to glue parts on the correct side of the large bulkheads. Some of these bulkheads are laser-etched on one side, so it matters very much which way these parts are oriented.
As with other models of this type, I died all wooden parts using Transtint brand of dyes mixed with denatured alcohol. In a 2 oz. jar of alcohol, I added 24 drops of Dark Vintage Maple dye and 12 drops of Amber dye.
The modifications I’m considering with this model is the adding of a Tenmasen, a small cargo lighter carried across the deck. Also, I am considering making a more realistic sail and possibly adding a small sail on an auxiliary mast at the bow, which these kinds of vessels were often equipped with. It may also be time to add some cargo to the main deck.