About catopower

Ship modeling since 1993.

Kezurou-Kai in Oakland, Oct 20-22

While it doesn’t relate directly to modeling wasen, there is an event of coming up in Oakland, California this weekend, the annual gathering of Kezurou-Kai USA. This is a 2-day event of enthusiasts of Japanese carpentry.

I don’t really know much about the group except for what I’ve heard from others in past months. And, the only reason I know about it now is really because of Douglas Brooks, who apparently gave a talk at the Kezurou-Kai event, which I believe was in New York last year, from what I recall.

Well, Douglas asked me if I would be willing to spend a day at the event to sell his book Japanese Wooden Boatbuilding. Of course, I welcome any opportunity to pay him back for all the help and information he has given me, so I agreed to run a vendor table on the Sunday of the event.

Here’s a copy of the event schedule that I copied from their website.

As a model maker, one thing I’m really looking forward to seeing is a 1/10-scale model of the Tempyozan Buddha Hall that was erected in Northern California. I myself will be manning a vendor table for book sales, but I’ll also have on display a couple wasen models. Specifically, I’ll set up the Tosa wasen model, as well as the Hozugawa Ayubune I’m currently scratch building. These models relate well to Douglas’s book and should serve to illustrate the boats and some of the details seen in the book.

15-shaku Hozugawa Ayubune

15-shaku Hozugawa Ayubune


I hope I can sell some of these books – I have a 70 pound box of them in my living room now!


Problems with website Funenokagakukan.or.jp

Anyone trying to access the website for the Tokyo Museum of Maritime Science may find that attempts to connect to the site result in a message that the server is not responding.

The URL: http://funenokagakukan.or.jp

I ran into this connection problem several days ago and checked with a friend in Japan, who reported no issues connecting to the site. I have since retested my own network and computers and have checked with people across the U.S. and in Europe to determine that all are experiencing a connection problem. So, the issue seems to be widespread, at least outside of Japan. I’m checking to verify the problem does not occur within Japan, though I tried a VPN connection through a server in Tokyo and still had the problem.

Today, I sent an email to an address I found for the site’s webmaster. I don’t know how effective that will be, but Douglas Brooks was also reported that he is unable to connect and said that he knows who to contact about it. So, hopefully, this will get resolved soon.

But, this means that for the time being, my links in certain posts, such as about downloading the pdf copy of the Funakagami, will not work. I expect this is a temporary issue, so I won’t be changing any of my posts or links for now.

Check back here for updates.

Satsuma-gata Wasen (薩摩型和船) – Toba Seafolk Museum

Recently, there were several posts on Facebook regarding boats from the southwestern end of the island of Kyūshū. It took me some effort to review the posts and linked pages to figure out that the boats described were of the same general type, as the terms used to describe the type seemed to vary a bit. The boat is a Satsuma-gata, or Satsuma-type boat.

Satsuma is an old feudal domain that makes up part of what is now Kagoshima prefecture on the island of Kyūshū. I didn’t know much about this area or about this boat until the recent Facebook posts.

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Kujirabune (鯨船) – Japanese Whaleboat Plans Arrived!

Yesterday, I received an email from Mr. Hayato Sakurai, who is the curator of the whaling museum in Taiji, Japan. Interestingly, Mr. Sakurai also lists himself as Advisory Curator for the New Bedford Whaling Museum, which I didn’t know, though it only makes sense.

Scene from a 150 year old screen painting of whaling along the Kumano Coast, Kishu region

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Computer Translation of Japanese Text, Part 1 – Translation from the Internet

Recently, I wrote a blog post about Researching Wasen Remotely, but it was mostly a follow up about the general difficulty of sorting through research information that’s primarily in Japanese and gathered from wide ranging sources. But I’m thinking it might be helpful to go over some of the resources and tools I use in research. This could be pretty involved, so I may need to do this in a few parts.

The most obvious sources of information are going to be books, drawings, photos, web pages, etc. Drawings and photos aren’t language dependent, but books, websites and any text in the drawings and photos, are going to be written in Japanese. If you don’t read Japanese, that’s a big problem, but there are tools that can help.

While I was born in Japan, am half Japanese, and know a small amount of spoken Japanese, my own knowledge of the written language is limited. Here’s how I overcome this limitation.

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Wasen Model Display at the Museum of Maritime Science, Tokyo

Exhibition of models of Edo period Japanese boats by Mr. Yukio Nakayama.

The display is at the Maritime Science Museum in Tokyo from Saturday, September 30th, through Sunday, October 15th. The display consists of approximately 200 beautifully handmade Japanese boat and ship models in 1/70 scale, with about 50 Edo period buildings, including shrines, temples, shops, warehouses, etc.

Mr. Nakayama will be on-hand on September 30th, October 1st, October 7th through the 9th, and October 13th through the 15th.

~ Session: September 30th (Sat) – October 2017 Sunday (Sunday) Place: Ship’s Science Gallery (Odaiba) About 200 precision handmade Japanese model models of scale 1/70 with about 50 buildings at the time including shrines, temples, town shops, warehouses, The diorama will be exhibited abundantly in the scene. On September 30th, October 1, 7, 8, 9, 13, 14, 15, the author himself visits, and will explain the work and the production demonstration. ※ “Funenki” is an identification chart of boats created in the late Edo period, with 33 kinds of riverboat of Kanto 1 yen and Daikawa combined ship are drawn.

I wish I could be in Japan when this is taking place, I have many photos of Mr. Nakayama’s models on display, and the work and variety of models is incredible. I can only hope to see this some day.

Catch the exhibit if you can!


企画展示 江戸木造和船細工 「船鑑(ふなかがみ)」を中心に… Part.2 ~江戸木造和船細工師 中山幸雄の世界~ 会期:2017年9月30日(土)~10月15日(日) 場所:船の科学館(お台場) 縮尺1/70の精密な手作り和船模型約120種200隻を、神社、寺、町屋、蔵、灯明台等当時の建物約50棟と共に情景豊かにジオラマ展示します。 なお、9月30日、10月1、7、8、9、13、14、15日は、作者本人が来館、作品解説や製作実演を行います。 ※「船鑑」とは、江戸時代後期に作成された船の識別図鑑で、関東一円の川船及び海川兼用船33種が描かれている。

via 船の科学館で展示 — 木造和船 中山幸雄の世界

Making Progress on Kujirabune (鯨船) Research

I recently had some very good new regarding my research of Japanese whaleboats, or Kujirabune. After finding the Taiji museum website and seeing a post of some whaleboats from Muroto, which is in Kōchi prefecture on the south eastern corner of Shikoku, I had mentioned these things to my ship modeling friend in Japan, Mr. Masami Sekiguchi, and also to Douglas Brooks. As it turned out, Douglas Brooks knew the curator of the Taiji museum and put me in touch with him.

Shortly after, my friend Sekiguchi-san had called the museum and spoke with the curator, Mr. Hayato Sakurai. It was nice to hear from Sekiguchi-san that the website I told him about, http://taiji.town, and the many colorful illustrations of whaleboats was something he wasn’t aware of, and he really appreciated my finding them. I think he enjoyed his conversation with the curator, and as it turned out, the Taiji museum building was designed by a friend of his, who has since passed away. So, I was happy to be able help him make some connections too.

Modern fiberglass-hulled kujirabune replicas racing.


Mr. Sekiguchi sent me this photo he took a couple years ago of some toy kujirabune.


So, now I have been in touch with Mr. Sakurai, who has agreed to send me a copy of the museum’s exhibition catalog, as well as a copy of a technical drawing of one of the types of boats used by the old whalers, specifically, a Sekobune, which was a chaser-type boat, and the sleekest looking of the whaleboats used. There were apparently several types of boats used in whaling, but I don’t yet know enough to be able to identify any of them except for the sekobune and the amibune, which was a net-carrying boat.

It’ll probably be a bit before the items arrive from Taiji, as Mr. Sakurai was actually just about to head to Muroto, when we exchanged emails last week. But, good fortune is still at hand, as Douglas Brooks sent me his copy of the Muroto museum’s exhibit book, and also went and made of copy of a whaleboat drawing he obtained when he was in Muroto and sent them to me. We’ll see when the items that Mr. Sakurai me arrive, but I suspect that the drawings will be the same.

Muroto kujirabune replica. Photo courtesy of Douglas Brooks.



Wooden Japanese Traditional Boats – The World of Yukio Nakayama

木造和船 中山幸雄の世界

Yes! I managed to stumble across Mr. Yukio Nakayama’s wordpress blog site by pure chance today. I’ve know about this man and his work for about a year now. One of my Japanese ship model contacts even sent me some photos of the man’s work at an exhibition several months ago, but he never put me in contact with him.

I wasn’t too worried because my Japanese language skills are not good and I figured it would just be either frustrating or annoying for Mr. Nakayama if I tried to communicate with him, though I did find someone else who offered to put me in touch with him. Now that I’ve found his blog, I may just have to try.

In the meantime, you can visit his site and poke around and see some of his work on his blog. You’ll find a few drawings, plus photos of several of his models.

All his models are the same scale, 1/70 I believe.


Source: 木造和船 中山幸雄の世界

The above link will take you to his blog, but here’s the URL: http://edowasen.wordpress.com

Higaki-Kaisen and Tosa Wasen Build Logs

Today, I finally got around to migrating two important build logs from my shipmodeler blog over here to wasenmodeler. The blogs cover the building of Woody Joe’s Higaki-kaisen model kit and Thermal Studios’ Tosa wasen kit.

My Higaki-kaisen model built from a Woody Joe kit

My Tosa wasen model built from a kit from Thermal Studio

While the blogs are not step-by-step instructions, it’s my hope that they may prove helpful to someone building the kits or interested in them. The original build logs are still on shipmodeler, but I’ve managed to use the WordPress system to export them from the other blog and import them here. Quite easy, actually.

The only other build logs that I would consider moving from shipmodeler are for the two Woody Joe mini-kits, the Hobikisen and the Yakatabune. Since these are just simple mini-kits that aren’t particularly accurate, I’ll probably just leave them where they are. After all, there is plenty write about and post here.

To access the newly migrated build logs, simple choose them from the Wasen Model Blogs menu above.