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

Japanese Book Buying Binge

While I have plenty of projects and potential projects to work on, I seem to be hungry for new material. Recently, I was hunting for the source of a pdf copy of an out of print book that I had originally obtained from the Nippon Foundation Library a few years ago.

But, try as I might, I couldn’t find it anywhere. In fact, most of my saved links to the site appear to be broken. I hunted for the pdf book, but couldn’t manage to locate it. However, I did manage to run across an actual physical copy on a Japanese auction site. Now, I don’t actually need the book, since I have the pdf file, but it’s always nice to have a physical resource.

The book I found was one on the history of the Takasebune, a term for the various types of shallow-draft transports found on the rivers across Japan. Watch for an upcoming post on researching and reconstructing the Takasebune of the Tone river system.

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Kezurou-Kai 2017 Follow Up

The 2017 Kezurou-Kai USA event is over and I had a very long day manning a book selling table for Douglas Brooks. It was a lot of fun meeting and talking with enthusiasts of Japanese carpentry. Many were local, but a number of people had flown in the the East Coast and elsewhere. I only worked the second day of this 2-day event, but I did manage to sell some copies of Douglas’s book, Japanese Wooden Boatbuilding.

My makeshift book sales table with my models on display.

It was nice to be able to talk to people about Douglas Brooks and Japanese wooden boats, as well as about the pair of models I brought. They were supposed to attract attention, which they did.

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Kezurou-Kai in Oakland, Oct 20-22

While it doesn’t relate directly to modeling wasen, there is an event of coming up in Oakland, California this weekend, the annual gathering of Kezurou-Kai USA. This is a 2-day event of enthusiasts of Japanese carpentry.

I don’t really know much about the group except for what I’ve heard from others in past months. And, the only reason I know about it now is really because of Douglas Brooks, who apparently gave a talk at the Kezurou-Kai event, which I believe was in New York last year, from what I recall.

Well, Douglas asked me if I would be willing to spend a day at the event to sell his book Japanese Wooden Boatbuilding. Of course, I welcome any opportunity to pay him back for all the help and information he has given me, so I agreed to run a vendor table on the Sunday of the event.

Here’s a copy of the event schedule that I copied from their website.

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The Rope: Article on the Funakagami and Historical Japanese Boats

Continuing with a string of posts about the Japanese ship model society, The Rope, here’s a short, but very interesting article describing a talk given by the curatorial director of the Tokyo Museum of Maritime Science. In this talk, Mr. Iinuma describes Japanese historical boats and the role of the book, Funakagami. I posted about this earlier in the year, along with a link to a downloadable pdf copy of the book. This article in The Rope News is a better discussion of the book that mine, and it’s a very short summary.

 

Cover of the Funakagami

I read this and, learned a few key things that I didn’t know about. One in particular was why the stem (the term bowsprit is mistakenly used here) on many yakatabune shown in wood block prints, look incomplete. I’ll let you read that answer for yourself. You can read the article online or download a copy:

https://drive.google.com/file/d/0B6tkJLrPbZUEa21zZ0JmMmMxYTQ/view

And, here is a link to my own blog post on the Funakagami where you can download a copy directly from the Tokyo Museum of Maritime Science: https://wasenmodeler.wordpress.com/2016/08/18/funakagami-a-pdf-book-on-japanese-boat-types-2/

 

On Amazon – Illustrated History of Japanese Traditional Boats by Kenji Ishii

I had to post this, because it is a very rare find. This book, written by Professor Kenji Ishii, was published in 1983 and is pretty much the bible of historical Japanese watercraft.

Illustrated History of Japanese Traditional Boats

This is the primary source for my own research on the subject of wasen, or traditional Japanese boats. I bought my copy used from Japan and it cost me around $170 with shipping. It was definitely worth the investment, as this information is extremely hard to  find anywhere else, especially outside of Japan.

Well, today, I was updating my post on my Kamakura period large sea boat project and I thought I see if I could find a link to this book on Amazon.com. I did and lo-and-behold, there’s an actual copy available in the U.S. for about $100!

https://www.amazon.com/Wasen-Shiwa-History-Japanese-Ships/dp/B00IOZFMPG/ref=sr_1_9?ie=UTF8&qid=1502065748&sr=8-9&keywords=kenji+ishii

I had to pass this along to readers here – this is a steal! I’m surprised to even see it listed here, because it’s written entirely in Japanese, so I wouldn’t expect copies to be turning up in the U.S. again, except in very rare cases. In fact, I don’t even see it listed on Amazon Japan at the moment.

Buy it before it’s gone. Seriously.

Book: The Tub Boats of Sado Island

I just found out that Douglas Brooks has a number of copies of his book, The Tub Boats of Sado Island: A Japanese Craftsman’s Methods, available for sale.

This book is in Japanese, but includes a full english translation in the back with translated photo captions as well. It was published in 2003 by the Kodo Cultural Foundation and lists for $38.99 plus shipping from the Kinokuniya book store. However, they list it as out of stock.

The author with Mr. Koichi Fujii. Photo courtesy of Douglas Brooks.

You can get a copy now, inscribed by the author, for only $30 including shipping. Take advantage of this opportunity by emailing the author directly. Here’s a link to his contact page: http://www.douglasbrooksboatbuilding.com/contact.html.

If you didn’t know, these boats are called Taraibune (たらい舟), and were used on the Echigo coast of the Sea of Japan and on Sado Island. If you ever visit Sado Island, there are a couple places where you can take a ride in one and even try out using the front mounted oar. Douglas Brooks did his first traditional apprenticeship in Japan with Mr. Koichi Fujii, who was the last professional tub boat builder on Sado Island until his death in 1999.

Taraibune for tourists at Shukunegi village, Sado Island. Photo courtesy of Douglas Brooks

Learn more about Taraibune on Mr. Brooks’s website: http://www.douglasbrooksboatbuilding.com/taraibune.html

 

Looking at the Senzan-maru (千山丸), a Traditional Japanese Whaleboat

When I visited Japan in September, I found that I’d really hit the jackpot at the Toba Seafolk Museum. Not only are there numerous small boats on display, plus dioramas and a dozen or so models, but the gift shop is well stocked with books. I visited early in my trip, so I didn’t get as many books as I wanted to. Sadly, I didn’t see any of the books I was interested in at any other location I visited during the trip. One book I did pickup detailed a boat called the Senzan-maru, 千山丸.

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The Senzan-maru is the name given to a boat that was in the service of the Hachisuka clan. The boat was used to deliver messages and to help tow river barges, like the large decorative warship that served as the feudal lord’s yacht. The boat is a type called an Isanabune, a fast, seaworthy boat designed for whale hunting. Many whaleboats and fishing boats were decorated with painted designs on their hulls, but probably not to the same extent as Senzan-maru.

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The highly ornamental hull painting on the Senzanmaru

 

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The decorative bow of a Japanese fishing boat on display at the Toba Museum.

To my understanding, the boat was discovered in a storeroom at Tokushima Castle, and a careful study was done resulting in this book. I don’t know much about the boat, the type of boat, or the Hachisuka clan yet. And, while I have the book, it takes a long time for me to go through Japanese text.

The book includes plan drawings of the boat, and I hope to build a model at some point. I am still trying to understand the design of the boat’s interior and specific features. So, it will be some time before I am ready to build the model.

However, I discovered a very handy drawing in the book that lays out all the major hull components in one, unfolded piece. So, today, I decided to try piecing the hull together using this drawing like a paper model.

I began by photocopying the drawing and enlarging it to fill a sheet of regular office paper. Printed out, this was glued to a piece of heavy card stock, and I cut the model out carefully.

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I found that this folded fairly well into a one-piece model using Aileen’s Tacky Glue with blue painter’s tape to hold the the parts in place until the glue dried.

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It didn’t take long to fold into shape or for the glue to dry. The only thing now is to decide what I want to do with this. The model only consists of the planks and doesn’t include the many internal beams, rubrails, splash rails, mast step, rudder, or deck planking, etc.

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This looks a bit different from the actual Senzan-maru. So, perhaps it’s not what I think it is. It actually reminds of the small fast boats described by Commodore Perry’s expedition.

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I don’t know what more I will do to this small paper model, if anything. It was just something I’ve been kind of itching to put together ever since I saw the drawing in the book, and will serve to help me better understand the design of this boat type and wasen in general. Now that it’s pieced together, I’m considering enlarging the drawing to a proper scale and cutting planks from wood.

However, there are plenty of projects in the works, including a 1:10 scale model of an Urayasu Bekabune, which I also worked on this week. But, more on that later. Ω