丸子船 – Marukobune Model by Mr. Masami Sekiguchi

When I visited Japan in 2016, I had the pleasure of having dinner with a couple Japanese ship modelers in Tokyo. One of these gentlemen is Mr. Masami Sekiguchi of the Yokohama  Sailing Ship Modelers Club. We’ve been regularly in touch via email as he has helped to answer questions for me on Japanese traditional boats, architecture, and anything else I need help with from Japan.

Mr. Masami Sekiguchi, left, visiting a display of wasen models built by Mr. Yukio Nakayama, right.

It was he and the other gentleman I had dinner with in Tokyo, Mr. Norio Uriu, who went and investigated a collection of models at the regional museum in the Ota ward, that I discovered when researching a spreadsheet I found online regarding wasen model dispositions. They took many dozens of photos documenting the models, which were in storage at the museum.

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とやまの和船 – Book on Traditional Japanese Boats of Toyama Prefecture

The first treasure of my recent Japanese book buying binge arrived late last week. The book is in Japanese and is called Toyama no Wasen, which means Toyama’s traditional Japanese boats.

This is a beautiful book and it is loaded with drawings. I flipped through it and counted about 30 boats detailed in drawings, though some drawings offer more details than others. Also, some of the rice field boats are little more than floating wooden tubs that are pushed or pulled through the fields by the farmer.

This book appears to be a 2011 publication by the Himi City Museum. I found my copy through Yahoo! JAPAN Auctions. I haven’t seen it listed even on Amazon Japan. I suspect it normally purchased directly from the Himi City Museum and, as it’s a museum publication, isn’t going to be found anywhere else.

I got lucky as I found what is apparently a used copy that someone was selling off. I did see that there is another copy listed on the auctions site. So, if you’re interested in collecting a large number of drawings of wasen, this is your best opportunity.

Sample drawing from the book.

I can’t tell you much about the details as I have yet to study this book. It’s 136 pages with a few pages with color photos. Most of the photos are black and white, and they’re small, so it’s really hard to see any details in them, especially with my unaided eyes.

Probably most useful, in terms of photos, is seeing the construction process of two types of local boats. Again, it’s hard to identify some of the small details in the photos, even when magnified, but they clearly show the steps of construction.

Now, some of the book will not be useful at all for model building purposes. Towards the back, there are many large tables which appear to mostly be some kind of ship building records. I will look these over, but I doubt there is anything very useful here.

Sample table from the book.

There’s a lot here to study. So much so, that I’m not quite sure where to start. I’d like to look at details of a couple of the boats depicted in drawings, but I have a feeling I’m going to be missing a lot if I don’t start at the beginning. There’s a fair amount of Japanese text to sort through, so I’ll just have to be methodical and start translating a paragraph at a time.

With 4 more books coming from Japan in the next couple weeks. I don’t know if I should start now, or if I should wait until they’re all here so I can decide what’s more important to work on.

It’s tempting to dig through this book, so maybe I’ll just go over a little bit… Ω

Douglas Brooks Building Honryousen

American Boatbuilder Douglas Brooks has been studying traditional Japanese boatbuilding techniques from master Japanese craftsmen for more than 25 years. He recently completed building a boat in Niigata prefecture under the guidance of Mr. Nakaichi Nakagawa. The boat is a simple river boat called a Honryousen.

Joining him in Japan is Nina Noah, Director of Student Affairs and Outreach at the Apprenticeshop, a non-profit organization located in Rockland, ME, dedicated “to inspiring personal growth through craftsmanship, community, and traditions of the sea.” She is also working on the boats and helping to document the work being done.

The following video was put together interviewing Mr. Nakagawa and documenting the work on this lovely boat.

 

 

In Search of Biwakobune (琵琶湖船)

As you may recall, I’ve been reading about the Marukobune of Lake Biwa. In the book, there are some small drawings of various boat used in and around the lake. Besides the Marukobune, which was a cargo and passenger transport, there were fishing boats and rice field boats, the latter often being used for various tasks.

Marukobune on Lake Biwa

I was intrigued by the many small wasen types, so I’ve been on a hunt for better drawings. The ones in the book are nice, but they were scanned and printed at a fairly low resolution, as they appear pretty small in the book. They also have no scale.

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Biwako no Marukobune (琵琶湖の丸子船)- Traditional Sail Boats of Lake Biwa

In early November, boatbuilder Douglas Brooks wrote a post on his blog about an unusual type of boat found in the area of Lake Biwa, Japan’s largest freshwater lake, which is located northeast of Kyōto. The boats feature a slightly rounded, sharply angled bow, built of narrow staves, called Heita.

Heita bow construction on Lake Biwa boats. Photos courtesy of Douglas Brooks.

Boats of Lake Biwa. Photos courtesy of Douglas Brooks.

The heita-built bow is a type of construction common to many boats of Lake Biwa, including fishing boats, cargo boats, and even rice field boats. Mr. Brooks specifically mentions Marukobune (Mah-roo-koh-boo-nay). Though the boats he shows on his blog are not Marukobune, they share the same style of bow construction, and his mention of Marukobune in particular intrigued me, as I’d seen something about this type before, but didn’t know anything about it.

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The Demise of the Hacchoro of Yaizu

I just heard the sad news that the Hacchoro organization, which operates a pair of these replica bonito fishing boats, is shutting down. It was only a matter of time. When I visited Yaizu in 2016 and was given the opportunity to look over the boats up close, it was clear that they were deteriorating. I was told at that time that when the boats were no longer useable that they would not be rebuilt or replaced. To my knowledge, these are the largest wasen that were still in operation. I feel very fortunate to have had a chance to see them up close before they were gone for good. 

The Hacchoro measured 13-meters long, or just over 42 feet. The name literally means “8 oars”. These boats could also be rigged with three masts and sails when the winds were favorable. They vessels were used for bonito fishing and each carried as many as a dozen fishermen. The boats would travel to the fishing grounds and use a pole and line method for catching fish.

 

For more information about these boats of Yaizu, check out my post:

Yaizu’s Hacchoro (八丁櫓) Fishing Boat

On my Shipmodeler site, there is an overview of my build of the Woody Joe kit:

Woody Joe’s Hacchoro Kit Finished

Also, my notes for building the Woody Joe kit are here on Wasenmodeler:

Hacchoro – Notes for building the Woody Joe kit

And, finally, if you want to get the Woody Joe kit, order yours from Zootoyz. They provide good pricing and excellent service:

Hacchoro at Zootoyz.jp

Hacchoro

If you’re interested in building the kit, I’m considering doing a new build of an “upgraded” version of the kit, using my the notes I took on my 2016 visit to Yaizu, in addition to some other materials I’ve collected.

The Hacchoro replica boats were built with much enthusiasm and fanfare in the mid-to-late 90’s. Now, more than 20 years later, they are out of service. It’s not unexpected. Boats of this type were made for harsh use and not intended to last a long time. Much research was done to re-create them in the first place, and that work is not lost. Perhaps the Hacchoro will be back again one day, if only for a time. Ω

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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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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将軍家御座船 – Shōgunke Gozabune – Ships of the Shōgun

Gallery

This gallery contains 4 photos.

Originally posted on 木造和船 中山幸雄の世界:
御先船 麒麟丸(御召小早三十二挺立) ? 小早 住吉丸(御供小早三十挺立)   箱型八挺立川船 ? 引御船無屋形二十挺立 ? 八挺立押送型船 ? 三挺立御鳥船 ? 八挺立小碇船・大碇船 ? 八挺立水伝馬船 ? 十挺立御供船 ? 十二挺立伝馬船 ? 十四挺立箱型船