Japanese Diorama Products Now Available from Zootoyz

This isn’t specifically about Japanese boats, but if you are interested in making Japanese boats or dioramas from the Edo period, in 1/144 or 1/150 scale, these products appear to be ideal.

The Ship Modeler

Just saw that the online Japanese hobby store, Zootoyz.com, has just added Woody Joe diorama products.

[Note: This was announced on Zootoyz’s Facebook page, but there is currently no link on the website itself. Until the site’s navigation is updated, here’s a link to the new products: https://www.japan-wooden-model-kits-zootoyz.shop/contents/en-us/d2045761143_Diorama-products-by-Woody-JOE.html]

This line of products includes sakura, cherry blossom trees, Japanese pines, cypress trees, box trees, cedar trees, generic broadleaf and conifer trees and other vegetation. There are also bags of ground cover for simulating grass, dirt, and gravel.

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Building the Kamakura Period Umi-Bune, Part 10

Just a quick update on the model as I continue to make progress in small increments.

You may recall that this boat has one large sail. I don’t know if I will mount a sail on it or not. I find it rather interesting how the lowered mast is stowed. I think I have a method for creating the sail, which was made from rice-straw matting, not cloth. But, I will have other opportunities to make that, and it would probably be simpler and more realistic at a larger scale.

In any case, I also have the full set of oars I made. I’ve decided that even though the museum models I’ve seen show the boat equipped for sculling, that my interpretation of early scroll paintings suggest they were rowed and not sculled. Also, I started to thinking about the side-to-side motion involved in sculling, and I see only rope bindings on these oars in all cases (museum models).

I can’t see how rope bindings would be able to take the amount of side-to-side pressure without loosing very quickly. If rowed, the binding would simply be to hold the oar and keep it from slipping. All the force of propulsion from the oars are taken by the beam extensions of the ship.

So the next issue was how these would tie into place. Nothing too special there, except that you can’t simply tie it the oar to the beam, as you’d have a hard time moving it. You need to tie a rope securely around the oar and then that rope needs to be tied to the beam. Does this difference make sense? There needs to be some freedom of movement for the oar, so the rope itself becomes something of a pivot.

I started by tying a length of line around each rope at the pivot point. I used pencil marks for measurement. I didn’t feel this needed to be exact. There is an extra pencil mark, as I realized I wanted the pivot point just a little higher up on the handle. Thread cutter and pencil included for size reference.

Adding the binding rope to the oars.

After I tied all of the oars like this, I realized I needed more of a lashing, so I wrapped the thread around the oar and tied a second knot.

Tying the rope then onto the model, I kept the knot-side against the beam. I can’t quite explain the final wrapping, as I kind of figured it out as I went. Something like wrapping both ends under the beam, over the top a couple times, making sure to stay on the opposite sides of the oar, then tying a final knot around the rope in between the oar and the beam. This turned out to be as challenging as rigging blocks on a square rigger.

Oars tied into place

Another difference between my model and modern museum models and their sculling oars is that sculling oars have a handle near the end of the oar and a line tied down to the rail or beam wraps over that to help hold the oar in place while sculling. Such lines seemed to have no purpose with this type of oar, so I didn’t include them.

In the side view, below, you can see how the oars look once they’re all on the model, though I still have to add them onto the other side. I made the base just a tad too short, causing the aft-most oar to hang down just a little too much.

I suppose I could make an entirely new base, but make it a couple inches longer. For now, I’m satisfied with it. We’ll see how long before it starts to bother me.

 

Sandanbo (三反帆) Kumanogawa Sailing Riverboat – Model by Kouichi Ohata

1/10-scale Sandanbo, Kumanogawa Sailing Riverboat model by Kouichi Ohata

Kouichi Ohata is a Japanese model builder who’s work I’ve featured here before. The last model of his that I posted here was his Kumanogawa Hayabune. Living in souther Mie prefecture, Ohata-san has the opportunity to see a number of unique tradional Japanese watercraft, and he has put his modeling skills to good use in reproducing them in miniature.

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Building the Kamakura Period Umi-Bune, Part 9

As if my work wasn’t coming along slowly enough, a car accident and heavier work load managed to bring my ship modeling of all types to a standstill. After nearly two months of making no progress on anything, I finally found myself in a position to move forward again on the Umibune. I didn’t managed to figure out too much regarding the making of scale figures for the model, but I did finish tying the bindings on the rails. I also decided on how I wanted to finish the aft deckhouse, or yakata.

I basically returned to the idea of installing only lower panels on the sides of the structure. There seem to be a multitude of ways that artists and model makers have interpreted this design, so I just went with something I recall seeing in a painting. Is it accurate? There really doesn’t appear to be any way to know for sure. But, it seems reasonable. In the photos below, you can see the panels before installation, as well as how they look in place on the model. I originally built these slightly oversized, allowing me to adjust them to fit.

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Building the Kamakura Period Umi-Bune, Part 8

I must confess that I haven’t done much on the umibune model itself. I’ve mostly been working out details on how to make or modify figures for it. I’ve been using wire frames, modifying plastic figures, etc., trying to develop some skills that will work for me. More on this later.

I’ve also been testing out a way to make the large square sail for it. It’s a little different from other sails because sails weren’t made from cloth at that time in Japan. Instead, they were made from straw mat. They were heavy and bulky and you certainly didn’t want to get them wet. I’ve been looking at how these have been modeled on museum models and one large scale 1/10-scale model that someone sent me photos of.

Model that was on display during Douglas Brooks’ work at a museum in Kobe in 2016.

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Building a Gozabune (Kobaya) from Paris Plans – Part 8

So, I drilled out the rogui on which the ro, or sculling oars, pivot. I used a sharp point to start the hole and finished up using a small drill in a Dremel rotary tool. Because I’m starting to consider painting the model, I’m going to hold off on adding the pins to the rogui until some later time.

Also, I found more structural work to complete before I have to deal with the rails, so I’m putting that assembly off for the moment.

Finishing Mortises

Today, I finished the remaining mortises. I did these the same way as the ones done earlier, laying out strips of tape to maintain even spacing, but the mortises at the todate (transom) and the miyoshi (stem), were a little smaller and slightly closer together. 

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Shimizu Port Terminal Museum (Verkehr Hakubutsukan フェルケール博物館) – Another Museum of Interest

This last week, I just learned of another museum in Japan that might be of interest. It’s not a large museum, and for most people, it probably wouldn’t make for an important destination. But, for a ship modeler interested in traditional Japanese watercraft, particularly ones of the larger variety, this one has something of special interest.

The museum apparently consists of a lobby entrance with some exhibition areas that surround a large courtyard. There is one main level and a smaller exhibition space upstairs. But, it is on the main level that there is a collection of what I believe are eight 1/10-scale models of sailing ships from Japanese history.

Among these are a few bezaisen, or coastal transports, a later period ship that, from photos I’ve seen, appears to be a schooner, a pair of Edo period warships and a pair of gozabune.

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Kumanogawa Hayabune (熊野川の早舟)- Model by Kouichi Ohata

1/10-scale Kumanogawa Hayabune model by Kouichi Ohata

Kouichi Ohata is a Japanese model builder who lives in the southern end of Mie prefecture, near the Pacific Coast. He runs the family orange orchards, and in his spare time, creates some magnificent works including a large 1/35-scale RC model of the Flower-class corvette H.M.S. Compass Rose, from the film and the book The Cruel Sea.

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Building the Kamakura Period Umi-Bune, Part 7

One of the detail features of this vessel is that the railings are fastened to the beams by rope ties. There may have been more to it than that on the real boat. I have seen where a wooden key is used to keep two parts in alignment, while a rope binding holds them together. That may be the case here. But, all that really matters is what can be seen, so it’s important that the bindings make sense and they are all the same.

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Building a Gozabune (Kobaya) from Paris Plans – Part 7

Mortises

While I’m waiting for the urushi, there is still more work to do on the hull, as well as more design problem solving as well. The main feature needed next are all the mortises. Mostly these are along the bottom edge of the upper hull plank. In addition, for the lower planks, there are mortises at the bow and stern edges. Technically, there would also be mortises at the bow edge of the upper plank and ones all along the bottom edge of the lower plank. But, these apparently do not have metal plates covering them. Most likely, these are plugged and painted over, so you wouldn’t see them anyway.

These mortises measure out to be approximately 5mm long at this scale, with a 4mm separation between them. To help position these evenly, I first lined the edge of the plank with tape, tryng to keep and even alignment about 2mm from the edge of the plank.

I then took some more tape and cut two long strips, one 5mm wide and another 4mm wide. From this I cut short strips crosswise and laid them into place, alternately, to create a pattern for the positions of the mortises. To cut the mortises, I used a 5mm wide Japanese carving chisel and a second chisel that I ground down to a width to 1mm.

Below, you can see some of the mortises I cut and the pattern of tape I used to create the proper spacing. the section on the right has been completed and the tape removed. On the left, I have yet to start cutting.

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