Building a Hozugawa Ayubune Model in 1/10 Scale

There are a lot of potential wasen subjects to model, but good plans are difficult to come by. Also, when decent drawings are found, it’s often difficult to find or to understand the details of the subject. I’ve been toying with a lot of different possible model building subjects, but would usually run into some issue that kept me from pursuing it further.

Recently, I sort of re-discovered a subject that I seem to have overlooked before. It is a boat that Douglas Brooks wrote about in past blogs from about 3 years ago, when he was building a boat in Kameoka, Japan, which is about 16 miles west of Kyoto. There, he built a Hozugawa Ayubune, a type of simple fishing boat that was used on the Hozu river.

15 shaku Ayubune built by Douglas Brooks in Kameoka, Japan, in 2014. Photo courtesy of Douglas Brooks.

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New Japanese Measurements Page

Here is some information on measurements in the Japanese unit called the shaku that I just put together. I discovered that information like this is in my notes somewhere, but I often don’t know where I put them. So, for easy future reference, and for your benefit too, I just added this info to a new page under the Resources menu and called it Japanese Measurements.

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Douglas Brook in Gifu Prefecture to Build Ukaibune

I got an email from Douglas Brooks while on his flight to Japan last week to build an Ukaibune, a boat used by cormorant fishermen in Gifu prefecture. I also saw that he recently  posted his first blog entries from Japan, as he begins work on the new project.

Douglas Brooks’s recently completed Ayubune

I saw from Internet posts elsewhere that he is going to be working with someone from Tri-Coastal Marine to take measurements for CAD work. I don’t know any details beyond that, though I’ve been trying to look into this further as the company is local to the San Francisco Bay Area.

The cormorant fishing boats are big, and they are someone complex in shape and structure compared to other Japanese river boats. But the would certainly be interesting models.

An Ukaibune, a boat used in Gifu prefecture for cormorant fishing.

Here’s a link to Douglas Brooks’s first post from Japan this trip: http://blog.douglasbrooksboatbuilding.com/2017/05/now-in-gifu-japan.html

Check out the great photos of the 15-shaku (15 foot) Hozu river Ayubune that he built for a client just before he left for Japan. This particular boat has some extra “bling” in the form of small copper plates that were never used on the real riverboats.

Building Woody Joe’s Shinmei-zukuri Shrine – Part VIII / Completion

Just finished the final post on the building of Woody Joe’s Shinmei-zukuri shrine kit. It’s been a fun project, and it gives me some familiarity with another style of Japanese architecture, and inspires me to learn more about it.

The Ship Modeler

This is the final installment of the building of Woody Joe’s Shinmei-zukuri jinjya or Shinmei-zukuri shrine kit. The final four steps are mostly really simple and quick, though Step 10, which is the construction of the fence, involves more wood cutting than any other step of the kit. Still, I figured I should wrap up the build with one posting.

The appearance of the model, going into the final steps of construction..

Step 9 << Torii Installation>>

Next will be the assembly of the torii, or the gate that, as Wikipedia describes it, marks the transition from the profane to the sacred. The instructions are very simple here. The Japanese text says to build the torii according to the full sized drawing shown, and the Japanese text in red in the box on the left simply identifies the full-sized drawing.

Building the torii requires the ends of the…

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Higaki Kaisen Article Part 2

Yesterday, I received the latest Ships in Scale, the May/June 2017 issue containing part 2 of my Higaki Kaisen build article.

I’m kind of relieved to see this one. While the first part of the article discussed the background of these ships in detail, it didn’t talk at all about the kit. The problem was that seeing the model, some people would certainly be tempted to go out and buy the kit without knowing more about it, and if they didn’t read the article and the editorial on it in the previous issue, they might not have noticed that the instructions are only in Japanese, which is partly the motivation for writing the article. So, now that it’s out, I feel a lot more comfortable about it the article series.

This issue includes my list of what to watch out for in the building of the kit, including which steps contain cautionary notes written in Japanese, and what those notes say. It’s a relatively short section compared with the last issue. That’s probably good, because those not building this kit will probably find the reading quite dry. Based on this installment, I’m guessing that there will be two more parts to the series, but possibly three depending on the editors.

Building Woody Joe’s Shinmei-zukuri Shrine – Part V

I’m just about half way through the model of a Japanese shrine. The model construction may not be exactly accurate, but the features of the building are interesting, and I’m thinking about how working on the roof structure may help with some wasen model construction.

The Ship Modeler

Continuing on, Step 5 is the last step on the first side of the instruction sheet and deals more with the roof construction.

Step 5 << Assembling the Roof  1>>

This time, I was able to divide up this step into left and right halves, so the above is the left side of the instruction sheet for step 5.

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Posting Japanese Model Photos

It has come to my attention that I haven’t posted much on Wasen Modeler lately. At the same time, I have a large collection of photos of Japanese boats and their models that I took while in Japan last September. So, I think it’s time to finally start organizing them and posting them here. These photos were taken in Tokyo, in Toba, and at the Hakusan Maru Museum on Sado Island. These locations are all in central Japan, and most of the subjects will probably also be from central Japan.

Boat repository at the Toba Seafolk Museum.

I plan on periodically posting photos of individual model or actual boats, or small groups of related items, particularly if I don’t have much information on them.

Displays at the Toba Seafolk Museum

I’ll probably focus first on those boat types that I know about and can explain. But, I have to warn you that there are far more types that I do not know about and can not explain. It’s all a learning process, and that’s what this site is really all about.

From the diorama at the Edo Tokyo Museum.

Be forewarned, perhaps by the photo examples you see here, than lighting conditions in Japanese museums are notoriously poor in order to help preserve the subjects, and my photography skills and equipment does not compensate well.

Shinmei-zukuri Shrine from Woody Joe

This is not a wasen project, but it is Japanese related, and I think the aesthetic is important to anyone who is interested in modeling wasen, so I’m re-blogging this from my ship modeling blog. And, yes, it’s not a ship modeling project either! But, I needed a simple project to distract me from my other work, and I had to write about it somewhere.

The Ship Modeler

I’ve recently found myself spinning my wheels on the ship modeling front. This happens from time to time with my projects when I get a bit overwhelmed or stuck. My scratch model of a Japanese rice field boat, the Gifu Tabune, was one kind of distraction to work on. That took only a couple days, but there was a lot of thinking that went into that build, since it was from scratch, and I’m still learning a lot about Japanese traditional boats. The ideal would be a simple kit, where I can just build it and not spend a lot of time on it or have to put a lot of brain power into it, as I’m in short supply these days.

As it turns out, I’d purchased a collection of simple Woody Joe kits from Zootoyz. If you follow my blog at all, you’re already aware that I am…

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Douglas Brooks Building Cormorant Fishing Boat in Gifu

Boatbuilder, and my personal Japanese boatbuilding mentor, Douglas Brooks will soon be returning to Japan to begin working on the construction of an Ukaibune (鵜飼船), a cormorant fishing boat, in Gifu. In mid-May he will be working with Mr. Seichi Nasu, who may very well be the last builder of these famous Japanese boats.

The 85 year old Mr. Nasu has built over 700 boats of various types in his lifetime. But, unlike with Brooks’s past apprenticeships in Japan, Mr. Nasu will not be directly involved in the construction, and will instead direct, while Brooks provides the physical labor.

Ukaibune on the shore of the Nagara river. Image courtesy of Douglas Brooks.

Ukaibune are incredibly long and narrow. In Gifu, they are generally worked by three fishermen at night by firelight. From these boats, the fishermen use cormorants to catch fish. A snare is placed around the base of the bird’s throat which allows it to swallow smaller fish, but not larger ones, which are instead held in their mouths. When a larger fish is caught, the fishermen bring the fish back aboard the boat and where it spits out the fish. It is a very old tradition practiced not only in Japan, but also in China, and parts of Europe.

In Japan the practice has become less about catching fish and more about bringing in tourists, at least in Gifu, where the tourists number in the hundreds of thousands annually. There, on the Nagara river, fishing is done at night, as tourists ride around in viewing boats, observing the 1300 year old tradition.

Cormorant fishing on the Nagara river. Image from go-centraljapan.jp.

I’ll post more about the building of the Ukaibune as I learn more. In the meantime, you can follow the work of Douglas Brooks by visiting his blog. There’s some interesting information about the cormorant fishing boats from his February 2014 visit.

To learn more about the man and his past projects, or to buy his book on Japanese Wooden Boatbuilding (highly recommended), visit his website at http://www.douglasbrooksboatbuilding.com/

For more information about cormorant fishing in Gifu, check out this site: http://en.go-centraljapan.jp/place/detail_115.html