Utasebune 打瀬船 Fishing Boat – 1/72 Scale Model from Paris Drawings – Part 5

Detailing of the Utasebune model continues. It still doesn’t show much change, but I’ve spent many hours on it. The primary addition are the mortise cover plates that line the hull.

As with other models in this scale, I’ve found that I could use my Silhouette Cameo 3 vinyl cutting machine to produce permanent adhesive backed vinyl to simulate the copper plates that would have covered the nail mortises on the real boat. These would darken and might actually turn a greenish hue. I think these were sometimes painted with coating of lacquer to protect the copper. On my model, I used a dark brown vinyl to simulate the “old copper penny” look. Continue reading

Building Woody Joe’s Atakebune Kit – Part 3

I’ve spent quite a bit of time working out some of the modifications I’m going to be making on this kit. Some things that I might like to do would require some re-engineering and re-fabricating some of the wooden parts, so I don’t know if I’ll go that far here. Of course, I have a second kit, and I make try those ideas there. But, for this model, most of the modifications are going to be fairly simple.

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Building Woody Joe’s Atakebune Kit – Part 2

I’m taking it easy on getting this new model kit started. Last time I posted, I really only had cut out the initial parts I needed and then dry-fit them together. This week, I glued together the basic hull frames, using machinists squares to check and set alignment. I used Titebond wood glue for this work.

I spent a lot of time trying to decide what I wanted to do with the bow and transom pieces. These pieces have holes in them that alignment tabs in the keel piece will lock into. The thing I don’t like about this, is that they are then visible on the finished model. As far as I can tell, there are 5 tabs total that will be visible on the completed model, as designed.

Since I’m dying the wood, these tabs shouldn’t be as noticeable as on a kit built straight from the box. Still, I’ve considered solutions, and one is to thickness sand the bow and transom pieces down by 1mm, then use 1mm sheet wood to cover them. The covering wood will have no holes in it, so no tabs will be visible. In order that everything still fits together, I will have to file the tabs down by 1mm. Continue reading

Utasebune 打瀬船 Fishing Boat – 1/72 Scale Model from Paris Drawings – Part 4

While it may not look like a lot, I managed to do some detailing of my Utasebune model this week. At this point, the changes are on the subtle side, since all the structural work is mostly done.

I’m ready to add the uwakoberi, which is the term for the cap rail, but first I need to add the boards that cover the aft end of the hull planking. I don’t know if this is a universal term, but I know these as chiri. They are decorative, but also protect the end grain of the hull planks.

I used paper patterns rubber cemented to the sheet wood. This not only allows me to cut the parts accurately, but at this scale, it provides support for the wood, and helps keep it from splitting while cutting.

Once the chiri are in place, it was then an easy matter to glue the koberi into place. I also started building the rudder.

Finally, I painted the lower hull planking black and made a simple base from cherry wood.

Next, I’ll probably need to make the faux mortise covers. But, I can also get started on the sails. The biggest upcoming problem I see is that I’m not sure where I’ll tie off the sheets that come off the sail.

Fortunately, this is one boat that operated well into the 20th century. And, while by this time, they were equipped with a motor for getting to and from the fishing grounds, they  still operated under sail for the actual fishing. So, there should be sail information available somewhere.


Building Woody Joe’s Atakebune Kit – Part 1

The Atakebune is the subject of a new kit from the Japanese wooden kit manufacturer Woody Joe. It’s something that I, Kazunori Morikawa of Zootoyz, and a few others were actively petitioning Woody Joe to produce. There was hesitancy on their part as there is actually very little solid information on the construction of these largest of Sengoku Period Japanese warships.

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Utasebune 打瀬船 Fishing Boat – 1/72 Scale Model from Paris Drawings – Part 3

It’s been a busy few days for the Utasebune project. This is a really good thing, as I haven’t made much model progress over the past several months, and I’ve found that the Japanese boat models I make at this small scale tend to progress rapidly. There’s really not that much to say about the current progress, as I’m now basically cutting and fitting the upper beams and deck boards.

Late period Utasebune at the Urayasu City Museum.

There is quite a bit of review of the hull details I can do here, but I’m mostly trying to focus on getting this model completed. At a future date, I may sit down and do a more thorough writeup of the details show in the Paris drawings, and how they relate to some of what I have learned about Japanese watercraft in general, and fishing boats, specifically.

Hull details from the Paris drawings. I’ve labeled some general items. The items marked with the question mark “?” are features where I’m not quite sure how they manifest themselves on the deck. Rather than go into a lot of explanation here, in later photos of my model, you can see how I dealt or didn’t deal with them.

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Utasebune 打瀬船 Fishing Boat – 1/72 Scale Model from Paris Drawings – Part 2

When there are available drawings, if at all possible, I’ll scale them and print them out to use as patterns for the shaping of the shiki, or the hull bottom, and the miyoshi, or stem, and also to create some kind of temporary former to simplify the shaping of the hull. I make copies of the drawings, cut them out, and glue them directly to the wood.

For this small model, with its completely enclosed deck, a removable internal former seems unnecessary. So I’m going to do the same as I did for the first Japanese boat model I built from Paris drawings and build it with a permanent internal frame. This frame consists of a strong back and a couple bulkheads that define the shape of the hull planking. 

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Atakebune Kit Now Available

Woody Joe has officially announced the release of their new Atakebune kit. This kit is based on the model at the Saga Prefectural Nagoya Castle Museum, which is located near Fukuoka, Japan. That model represents a large Atakebune, which was the largest class of warship used by the Japanese armies during their warring states period.

The 1/100-scale kit sells for ¥38,000, which at the current exchange is about $335. Woody Joe will begin shipping the kits to resellers this coming Sunday, October 31st, but you can place your order now.

Japanse online hobby deal Zootoyz has the kit listed here: https://www.japan-wooden-model-kits-zootoyz.shop/contents/en-us/p25066.html

From the kit photos, the model looks a little on the simple side, but that just leaves room for some good detailing. As posted before, the dimensions of the kit are: Length 490mm Width 230mm Height 310mm (overall, including oars and stand).

I have two kits on order, which will hopefully arrive within a couple weeks. I’ll post a brief out of the box review when I get them. Ω

A Day of Display at the SF Asian Art Museum

Sunday, October 17th, was my first display at the San Francisco Asian Art Museum and it went pretty well. It was a bit stressful getting everything together in time, but once I had all the models displayed and was talking to people about them, it was pretty relaxing. The event was just a one day showing, and there were many other things taking place as part of the event.

I had 10 of my completed models on display, and I decided to bring several models that I had in early stages of construction, so I could show how I build them. Information cards provided visitors with the basic information about the model and what it represented. There was a lot of information I had to leave out in order to fit the text onto those large index cards.

Behind the models, I displayed what artwork I could find that showed the specific boat types in Japanese prints and paintings.

Four of the models were built from kits, including Woody Joe’s Hacchoro, Yakatabune, and Kitamaebune, as well as Thermal Studio’s Tosa Wasen. That’s probably the weakness of this specific display, as I think most people would like to see models that I built from scratch, and most of those that I have are smaller boats, whose detailed construction I’ve been studying.

The bigger models attract the most attention, and they are kit builds. For my Japantown bank window displays, I mostly use the kits. For displays at the Asian Art Museum, it would have been nice to focus on the scratch builds. It’s something I’ll work on in the future. It means not only scratch building more models, but models of larger boat types, and ideally, models with sails, as they attract the most attention.

I had several in-progress projects on hand to illustrate how the models are built. This drew some interest too, though I didn’t have much time to actually demo the construction of the models in the morning, as that’s when I had the most people coming, asking questions about the models.

The best part is probably that it got the interest of many kids. There was one in particular, who was half Japanese with a Japanese mother and an American born father. He was maybe 8 and spent a lot of time hanging out with his dad and he was the most interested. So, I showed him everything I could that he seemed the most interested in. He had lots of questions and his dad was very encouraging. His mother came by too. She was originally from Ibaraki prefecture, around Lake Kasumigaura, which is well known for a type of side-trawling fishing boat called a Hobikisen.

The display was pretty well received, but it would be a lot easier to set it up somewhere, and leave it for a period time, like when I have my Japantown displays in the Union Bank window. They still won’t allow that due to Covid restrictions. Makes absolutely no sense to me, and I think the bank management is just being lazy about it. Japantown needs more things of interest and putting these in their community room window isn’t likely to increase the spread Covid.

I talked to a few visitors who had some ideas about displaying them again in Japantown, so well see what I can do again. In the meantime, I have some other display possibilities I will look into for maybe early 2022. Ω

Utasebune 打瀬船 Fishing Boat – 1/72 Scale Model from Paris Drawings – Part 1

The Souvenirs de Marine is a multi-volume collection of drawings that are the basis for many of the models in the French National Maritime Museum. The book was put together by Edmond Pâris and originally published in the 1880s. Among the collection of drawings of watercraft from around the world are several Japanese boats that were recorded by French Lieutenant Armand Paris, mostly in the areas of Osaka and Edo in the 1860s.

These drawings provide the only detailed records of some of the watercraft depicted. These include large coastal transports, fishing boats, pleasure boats, a large yacht owned by one of the many feudal lords, a row galley in the service of the Shogun, etc.

Now, I’ve built a model of the row galley, which is referred to in Japanese as a Kobaya, though there are some features that I feel that the drawing is missing, as the ship was out of service for some time and in disprepair, following the fall of the Shogun’s government many years earlier. So, that model remains technically unfinished.

However, there is an intriguing looking fishing boat that’s detailed in the available drawings. The boat is only described as a fishing boat, but it is quite large at 17 meters long, a little over 55 feet. But, what stands out the most is the unusual downward turn of the bow. This is the first time I’d seen this kind of feature. But, it turns out that it wouldn’t be the last time.

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