Note that these kits all feature instructions in Japanese and are not available directly in the U.S. Instructions are all very well illustrated and many of the kits can be purchased on Amazon.com or Ebay, but be careful of premium pricing by some vendors. I highly recommend purchasing from the Japanese online store Zootoyz.jp. The pricing is reasonable and service is very good.
Higaki Kaisen – A 1/72-scale laser-cut kit of an Edo Period coastal transport from Woody Joe. This kit features interior details and is constructed in a manner similar to the original ships. One of the more complicated Woody Joe kits. The kit is roughly based on the replica bezaisen Naniwa Maru, that was built for the now closed Osaka Maritime Museum. The kit is fairly complicated, but makes a beautiful model at just about 16″ long and 16″ high.
Kitamaebune – A just released 1/72-scale laser-cut kit from Woody Joe of an Edo period coastal transport that operated out of the norther ports of Honshu and Hokkaido and the Japan Sea coast. An older kit also made by Woody Joe is now out of production, though might be found through some online dealers. The older kit is less accurately detailed, but is a larger scale, larger model, roughly 1/60 scale. The new kit is at the same scale as the Higaki Kaisen kit. This kit does not have the interior detail as the Higaki Kaisen kit, but construction has been simplified through the use of laser-cut parts. The completed model is about 1-1/2″ longer than the Higaki Kaisen.
Sengokubune – An older-style kit of an Edo Period transport from Woody Joe. This ship is similar to the Higaki Kaisen and Kitamaebune, but less accurately detailed. Most parts are not laser cut and some planks have to be cut from sheet stock using a paper template. Pre-cut parts are milled wood. The kit is a larger than the Higaki Kaisen or Kitamaebune kit and is roughly 1/60 scale. This kit may still available from dealers, but is now out of production and supplies are running low – if you want this kit, better get it now, before it goes the way of the old version of the Kitamaebune below.
Kitamaebune (old version) – An out of production kit from Woody Joe. This kit was an older-style kit, like the Sengokubune kit. A larger 1/60-scale cousin of the new 1/72-scale kit, but less accurately detailed. Like with the Sengokubune, most parts are not laser cut, some planks have to be cut from sheet stock, but does have many pre-cut parts that are milled wood. Out of production Woody Joe kits seem to be very hard to find, and this one is no exception. I like this kit because its size makes it a more eye-catching display.
Hacchoro – A traditional boat used by the fishermen of Yaizu. 24 of these boats were commissioned to provide security for the retiring Shogun Ieyasu Tokugawa. This “8-oar” fishing boat is a 1/24-scale kit from Woody Joe, featuring a large proportion of laser-cut parts and pre-printed sails. Early in the year, I created a document containing translations and my build notes and posted it on my Shipmodeler blog and can be found here: Hacchoro Notes
Yakatabune – A river boat that became a popular way for even commoners to spend a day viewing cherry blossoms, in the evening to view the local fireworks festival, or to entertain with food, drink and song. This is a 1/24-scale kit featuring a large proportion of laser-cut parts. Woody Joe’s kit appears to use a basic hull that is very similar to their Hacchoro kit. This kit features internal lighting using a small battery box under the deck.
Mini-Yakatabune – A small laser-cut mini-kit that is designed to be completed over a weekend, from Woody Joe. Essentially a smaller, simpler version of the Yakatabune mentioned above.
Utasebune – A mini-kit from Wood Joe. This is another weekend project kit that features laser-cut parts. This kit represents small side-trawling fishing boat.
Hobikisen – The third traditional Japanese wooden boat kits in mini form from Wood Joe. This is a simplified version of the side trawling fishing boat that was developed on Japan’s second largest lake, Lake Kasumigaura.
Tosa Wasen – The only traditional Japanese boat that is not manufactured by Woody Joe. This is a large 1/10-scale kit of a 20-foot fishing boat. This is probably the most accurately designed kit of a traditional Japanese boat available. This kit is difficult to find and is easiest to purchased by contacting the manufacturer directly by email, Thermal Studio. I wrote an article on Tosa Wasen and on the building of this model that was recently published in The Nautical Research Journal, Volume 61, Number 3 (Fall 2016).