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.
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.
Yukio Nakayama recently posted some photos of a traditional boatbuilder’s workshop on his blog site. There are several photos worth checking out.
He also posted some images of what appears to be a lumber yard, where a small craftsman appears to be preparing to split a log to cut into planks.
I realized later that the boat outside is a bekabune. The boat inside, I think is an utasebune. In fact, that’s exactly what they are. If I had bothered to pay more attention, the label under the title of his blog page identifies them.
I sent this image to Douglas Brooks, who says that Nakayama-san had worked at the Urayasu Museum and think he had helped build the full-sized versions there.
These are posted on his blog, Edowasen, also on WordPress. Click the link below to view:
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.
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.
I got an email this morning from American boatbuilder Douglas Brooks, who has been in Japan, studying and constructing an Ukaibune, or a traditional river fishing boat used by the cormorant fishermen of Gifu prefecture.
Photo of completed Ukaibune courtesy of Douglas Brooks.
This is one of those posts where I am really putting my knowledge, or possibly my lack knowledge, out on the Internet. When I visited the Edo Tokyo Museum last September, I found a model that I was extremely happy to find, as it gave me a first-hand look at a boat type that I have been very interested in learning more about.
The boat was labeled a Takasebune, and I first encountered it in the Funakagami, a book published back in 1802, which was used to help identify different river boat types for tax purposes. The Takasebune is a type of riverboat used to carry goods, and specific size and designs varied, but they are generally shallow draft boats with single plank sides that are nearly vertical, and the bow is a flat plank or a pair of planks joined at a slight angle.
The model in the Edo Tokyo Museum was clearly labeled a Takasebune in Japanese and in English, and I was really happy to find it. I took a number of photos to catch all the details I could. But, it was after reviewing the photos of the model and further studying the boat types that I discovered a problem with the model’s identification.
At the Toba Seafolk Museum, I encountered boats and boat models of types I’d never heard of before. That of course is no surprise given my novice status in the study of traditional Japanese boats. But, the number of boat names and terms was quite overwhelming. If I am going to continue studying wasen (tradtional Japanese boats), then I’m going to have to return to Toba at some point, armed with a better understanding of what I’ll see again there.
In this case, there was a nice model of a gyosen (漁船) or fishing boat called a Mitobune (ミト船).
According to the placard, the boat was a type of fishing boat used on the Kumanonada Sea, which is the area of the Pacific Ocean to the south of Kumano prefecture.