A Naniwamaru Build in German

Not sure how I missed this, but back in 2012, a ship modeler on an Austrian website researched and built a model of the Naniwamaru, one of four replica Japanese coastal transports at the time.

Naniwamaru model by Heiner Luh

Mr. Luh had contacted American boatbuilder Douglas Brooks, who had written an article on these ships, generally called bezaisen or sengokubune, in the the Shipwright annual for 2011.

Mr. Luh’s model under construction.

The construction of the model is detailed on the modeler’s website here: http://www.googlehupf.at/shipwright/?page_id=276

I’m always very impressed by ship modelers who build models of Japanese watercraft with limited information. The only thing odd in the model is the narrow strip planking of the lower hull, but this is covered by the paint job anyway.

I couldn’t find mention of the scale of the model, but it’s pretty big. I’m guessing it’s about 1/50 scale, as the 30 meter long ship (give or take) looks to be about a 2 foot long model (give or take).

Anyway, it’s a very nice model and there are a lot of great construction photos on his website. Definitely worth checking out. Ω

A Blog Site on Illustration of Historical Japanese Ships (和船図譜)

I was digging around on Youtube a few weeks ago and discovered an interesting 3D walk-around video of a traditional Japanese boat. In the description, I found a link to a Japanese website called Wasen Zufu (和船図譜) or Illustration of Historical Japanese Ships. This is apparently a blog site of someone in Japan who has created some virtual 3D models of a few wasen. Some of these are shown as a textured image, with a couple shown in walk-around video clips of them.

Many people might not take much notice, but I saw that a couple of these reminded me of boats I had seen in a book on boats of Toyama prefecture. Looking more closely, sure enough, three of the boats from Toyama are included.

3D digital models are interesting, as you should then be able to view then from any angle, and thus get a better sense of what they look like. I suppose they’re really no different from physical models, though these digital models lack some details, such as planking and fastening. But, on a small enough scale, my own wooden models may lack some of these features. So, that does cause me to rethink those smaller models of mine.

But in any case, the site, as I say, is interesting. One of the most interesting things to me, was to discover a link to the text of a talk given by Mr. Naoki Hirose, the curator of the Himi City Museum, and someone I actually know. I already wrote about the details about this in a previous post here: Funabashi – Boat Bridges in the Edo Period (船橋).

Anyway, you can check out the site here: https://blog.canpan.info/wasenn-zufu/

I’ve written to the owner of the site and he indicated he was going to keep making illustrations. So, while the site doesn’t seem to have been updated in a while, perhaps we’ll seem some new information there in the future. Ω

 

 

Building a Tenma-Zukuri Chabune (伝間造茶船) – Part 5 – Final

First off, my apologies for taking so long to post an update on this project. The Tenma-zukuri Chabune is actually done. It sat for a long time with all the construction work done, needing only the coppering detail. I finally got the nerve to get back to it and it is now finished. But, when I last posted, there was still work to do, so let me take a step back to go over what was done.

Last we left off, the nail mortises had been cut and I was ready to add the decks at the bow and stern, or the omote and the tomo.

I don’t know if the boards that make up these decks were removable. Underneath, I left the ends open, so things could be tucked in there for storage, but only for smaller things, as the support posts of the beams cut the openings in half. If the deck beams were removable, there should be finger holes in at least some of the deck boards, so they could be easily lifted up. Sometimes, there was also a V-shaped pattern inscribed across the boards to make it easier to identify which boards go where. This is less important at the bow, where the boards lengths vary greatly, making them more easily identifiable as to which one goes where.

At 1/20 scale, I decided to keep things simple and didn’t add either finger holes or the alignment inscription. This would be more important on a larger scale model, like 1/10 or 1/15. So, adding the deck boards was just a matter of laying them down.

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New Model Gallery

Over the past couple days, I’ve finally been setting up the Model Gallery page on my site here. I’ve had the menu showing for quite some time, but up to now, it’s just been an empty page. So, I finally got my act together, collected a few photos, and got them up.

Kushikino no kogata wasen model Alexey Shaporov of the Russian Federation. One of the wasen models now on display in the Model Gallery.

To access the galley, just click the link above, or choose Model Gallery in the main menu.

I may change the format in the future, but the displaying of other modelers wasen models is long overdue. I’m looking to add others. If you’ve built a wasen model, whether it’s scratch built or kit built, please contact me here. Ω

“Fune” Build by Alexandru Gurau

Years ago, ship modeler Alexandru Gurau of Canada had been building a model of a bezaisen, an Edo period coastal transport, based on drawings recorded by French lieutenant Armand Paris, and recorded in the book Souvenirs de Marine.

I was particularly impressed by Mr. Gurau’s work, as the information contained in the Paris drawings are a bit difficult to follow on their own. My own experience with the building a model from Paris drawings resulted in my own Kobaya project. In that particular case, I had discovered that the drawings may have been somewhat incomplete as they were based on vessels that were no longer in use and seemed to be missing features. I believe that problem was unique to that particular vessel, and the other Japanese boats recorded in the book appear complete. Still, not always easy to decipher all the information needed. Not to mention that the note contained in the drawings are handwritten in French.

Still, for the larger subjects in particular, like Mr. Gurau’s Fune model, It just seems difficult to wrap one’s head around the details due to the unusual nature of the hulls of these coastal transports – unusual to the western eye, anyway.

Scan of what Paris describes simply as “Fune”, recorded at Kobe, Japan, in 1868.

The Mr. Gurau’s model was mostly completed in 2013-2014, but he recently updated some things, which brought the model back to my attention. His dealing with the sails of the vessel have given me new inspiration to complete the sails of my own kitamaebune model, which is based on a kit from Woody Joe.

His build photos are available to view on his personal ship modeling website here:  http://www.alexshipmodels.com/2016/10/28/fune-build/

He also documented the build on The Nautical Research Guild’s Model Ship World (MSW) online forum here: https://modelshipworld.com/topic/3230-fune-by-alexandru-finished-japanese-ship-of-1868-scale-150/#comments

The one thing to note on the MSW forum’s topic title and first entries say that the model is built at 1/50 scale, but it appears that his model was actually built in 1/100 scale.

In any case, it’s nicely done and worth checking out. Ω

Building the DNB Maru – A Niigata Honryousen – Final

The Honryousen model is done and been sent to its new owner in Washington state.

The blocks at the ends of the hull turned out to be somewhat challenging to make due to a combination of the way they fit notches cut into the hull planks, plus the angle of the tateita, or the bow and stern planks. Also, the blocks have a peak in the center that look best if they are roughly level with the waterline. That’s not always the case in these types of boats as I’ve seen in photos.

The small deck at the stern wasn’t too much of a problem. I began by making a funabari, or beam, which I notched into the hull planking. As there are no fasteners used, the shallow notch I cut was helpful in holding the beam in place. The inward pressure of the hull planks also help to hold it in place. I used a small amount of carpenter’s glue to help secure it, just for good measure.

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Building the DNB Maru – A Niigata Honryousen – Part 4

I’m going to keep this posting short, as it’s kind of a major milestone, with the finishing of the boat’s basic hull shape.

The full-sized honryousen completed and on the water. Photo by Benjamin Meader.

With the hull planks, locally called hoteita (ho-tey-ee-tah), glued into place, the bottom edges of the hull planks were easy to trim, as they just had to be flush with the bottom. For the top edge, I had some measurements to go by, and I used thin strips of wood to use as battens, clamping them into place along the inside of the hull. The top edges of the battens marked the top edges of the hull planks.

With the battens clamped in place, I made adjustments to the height at various locations along the hull. But, the most important thing was to make sure it was a fair curve, Once satisfied with the curves, I marked the hull planks with a pencil line drawn along the top edge of the battens, then started the process of whittling the wood down to that line.

I used a large hobby knife to trim away the bulk of the excess, paying close attention to the wood grain, which wood would split along. When most of the wood was trimmed away, I then used the mini-block plane to do the fine shaping. A little final go with a sanding block cleans up any little variation.

The mostly final curve of the hull. In front of the model, you can see my Japanese squares marked in shaku/sun instead of feet/inches. Also, there’s the miniature block plane I used for the fine trimming.

The next steps of the major construction issues are the addition of the single beam of the boat, and the blocks that fit at each end of the boat. The beams are called funabari, but I don’t know the term for the blocks at the ends of the boat yet. Looking into that now.

These parts are made from a lighter-colored wood on the real boat, though I’m not sure of the exact species. For my model, I’ll use hinoki, which I now have a small supply of.

Building the DNB Maru – A Niigata Honryousen – Part 3

Planking the hull is a somewhat tricky process. There are no frames to glue to, so clamps are next to useless, except to hold the former in place. Also, this is an open boat that, like the full-sized boats, will have no finish on it. It’s too small to nail together, so the hull will be held together with wood glue.

CA, or instant glue, will stain the bare wood. If I were to apply a finish on the completed model, I might be able to get away with using CA. But, with unfinished wood, it will mar the model’s appearance. To keep it looking as clean as possible, I’m using yellow carpenter’s glue, which cleans up with water. The only issue is that the parts will need to be held together while the glue sets.

Since I can’t use clamps, tape is being used to hold the planks in place while the glue dries. For this, I’m using low-tack painter’s tape.

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Building the DNB Maru – A Niigata Honryousen – Part 2

Construction of the Honryousen model began with gluing patterns to the wood for the shiki, or hull bottom, and the ottate, which I am told is an informal local term for the bow and transom planks. From an earlier build of a kawabune (riverboat), I learned that the common formal term for the bow plank is omote no tateita and the term for the transom plank is the tomo no tateita.

Honyousen side profile I created in Adobe Illustrator

Patterns were simply printed on large format paper and glued to the wood using rubber cement. This stuff sticks well enough and rubs off pretty cleanly after it has dried.

When I started this project, I wasn’t sure if I needed to build a former for it, like I have for all the other scratch built wasen models I’ve made. The former serves as a temporary backbone and framework that wood hull parts can be clamped to while gluing into place. Instead, I thought I might be able to hold the parts together and band them into position using clamps and such, much like the real boats are constructed.

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Building the DNB Maru – A Niigata Honryousen

In 2019, boat builder Douglas Brooks had developed a project together with Nina Noah of an organization called The Apprenticeshop, to go to Japan and build two traditional Japanese boats with two different Japanese boat builders.

The two boats were a Niigata kawabune called a honryousen built with Mr. Nakaichi Nakagawa, and a Himi Tenmasen, built with Mr. Mitsuaki Bansho.

Photo courtesy of Douglas Brooks

The Honryousen, or simply Honryou, is a riverboat built in a style called itaawase, which simply means “plank joined”. That the term refers to a boat built entirely of planks, including the bow and stern – basically one with no cutwater. While not exclusive to Niigata prefecture, this was very common on the rivers there.

The Honryousen that Douglas Brooks built was dubbed “DNB Maru”, named for Douglas, and the two people from the Apprenticeshop that came with him to Japan, Nina Noah and Ben Meader.

If you would like to read about the two projects and view a couple videos, I recommend visiting the Apprenticeshop blog here: https://www.apprenticeshop.org. Continue reading