Zutta Tenma in 1/10 scale – Himi Rice Field Boat

In early 2016, Douglas Brooks was in Himi, Japan, to build a small Tabune, or rice field boat, known locally as a Zutta Tenma. He is back in Japan now, on his way back to Himi, this time to build a general purpose boat that I’m told is simply called a Tenmasen.

As part of a fund raising plan, I’d agreed to build a couple models for fund raising purposes for him for a nominal fee. This will happen some time in the next 6 months, probably, as I wait for more details on the boat’s construction.

Himi Tenmasen

In the meantime, Douglas was also in Niigata prefecture, where he worked on a very simple river boat which has been called a Nouninawase or Itaawase, or as I just learned today, a Honryousen.

Douglas Brooks caulking a seam on a Honryousen

I’m not sure if it’s going to happen, but Douglas was interested in getting a model of the Honryousen he just built, so I’m waiting on some dimensions on that too.

But, while I’m waiting for information on those, I decided that I really haven’t done all that much in the way of a model of a boat that he’s built, and I’m about to build two. So, I figured I’d better get a head start and get in some practice by building a Zutta Tenma model.

Zutta Tenma were boats used in and around the rice fields of the region. This one is a smaller type and has a very simple design. My understanding is that these were not built by boat builders, per se, but by builders who specifically built these tabune, or rice field boats.

Zutta Tenma in a museum in Himi, Japan

The boat is only about 12 feet long, so I’m going with a 1/10-scale model. At this scale, the model will be about 14 inches long. This also allows me to put in the mortise detail, which is hard for me to do at smaller scales. It also keeps the model from seeming too simple. Unfortunately, most of the interesting detail is on the underside of the boat, so you won’t be able to see it unless the model is displayed upside down.

For the most part, I think the boats look best on a simple wooden base. But, a mirrored base, would allow a viewer to see the bottom of the boat as it sits upright. I’ll have to think about this.

You can read more about Douglas Brooks’s 2016 Zutta Tenma project on his blog here: http://blog.douglasbrooksboatbuilding.com/2016/02/the-rice-field-boat.html


Building Woody Joe’s 1/72-scale Kitamaebune Kit – Part 6

Details, Details…

Hull construction is done on the Kitamaebune, the rudder has been added, and it’s time to turn my attention to the small details.

The kit, like all of the larger Woody Joe wasen model kits, includes a sheet of photo-etched copper, which covers many of the beam ends and such. But, while these pieces cover all the major features, there are many more, smaller details on the real ships that aren’t dealt with in this or the Higaki Kaisen kit.

I took these photos of the Hakusanmaru on Sado Island in 2016. In them, you can see all the brown colored copper coverings as well as the black iron bands and fasteners.

I considered trying to make these details in copper, but it wouldn’t match the copper in the kit, which actually appears to be some kind of copper alloy, as it doesn’t tarnish like regular copper. The solution I came up with, was to use brown colored adhesive vinyl. So, it was time to re-introduce my vinyl cutting machine, the Cameo Silhouette 3.

Here’s a link to the blog post where I used the Cameo to make the ornamentation on my Kobaya model: https://wasenmodeler.wordpress.com/2019/05/27/building-a-gozabune-kobaya-from-paris-plans-part-13/

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Kitamaebune Website

Recently, I discovered a great website about Kitamaebune. I’m not quite sure who is running the site. It has some short, strange Youtube videos in Japanese, and some very basic travel information about the different port cities that were major places connected with Kitamaebune.

The site is simply kitamae-bune.com and it is in Japanese. However, there is an english language section that can be accessed at en.kitamae-bune.com, or to simply read about Kitamaebune, just go straight to en.kitamae-bune.com/about/main/ Ω

Building Woody Joe’s 1/72-scale Kitamaebune Kit – Part 5

Last week, I displayed my collection of Japanese traditional boat models at the big Wooden Boat Festival in Port Townsend, Washington, and I managed to sell my Higaki kaisen and Gifu tabune models to visitors to the show.

My now sold Higaki kaisen model at the Port Townsend Wooden Boat Festival.

But, that leaves my collection of wasen models without a flagship sengokubune. And, with a Japanese boat models display in Japantown coming up next month, it’s become that much more important for me to finish the Kitamaebune kit. So, now that I’m back home, I’ve been putting greater effort on this model.

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Building a Tenma-Zukuri Chabune (伝間造茶船) – Part 4

Uwakoberi, Koberi, and Iron Nails

So, with the koberi in place, I added the small deck at the bow and the ōtoko at the stern. I’m trying to find out the term for these small decks, which are more like steps. On the Hozugawa boats, the small deck at the bow is called omote-amaose. But, that’s an entirely different region, so I expect the term in Tokyo/Edo would be something quite different.

I also added the uwakoberi, which is what in the west, one would refer to as the gunwale or caprail. Each was made from a single piece of wood, wide enough to cover the edges of the hull planking and rub rail. I made mine a little wider, so that there is a slight overhang on the inboard side.

On tenmasen, the uwakoberi could be quite wide, serving as a walkway for the boatmen. I wanted to keep true to the Funakagami print, so I didn’t go too wide on this. Also, I had a hard enough time putting a bend in the wood. Any wider would have just made this task more difficult.

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Building a Tenma-Zukuri Chabune (伝間造茶船) – Part 3

Construction of the model continues as I’ve been working out how I want to tackle some of the details on this 1/20-scale model. The major issues to deal with are the copper mortise covers and other copper detailing as well as the detailing of iron nails used to fasten the koberi, or rub rail, plus wire nails used to fasten the uwakoberi, or the caprails. Some of this is quite simple.

Below, I’ve posted a photo of Japanese modeler Kouichi Ohata’s Tenma-zukuri chabune. He has been helpful in the adjusting of the design of the drawings and has completed a model based on the drawings.

His model is built at 1/10 scale. I may eventually build one at this scale, but for now, I’m happy building mine in 1/20 scale, and I’m considering building other wasen of the Funakagami in 1/20 scale also. It saves on space!

Photo of Japanese modeler Kouichi Ohata’s 1/10-scale Tenma-zukuri chabune based on my plans, with a few modifications and added details.

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Building a Tenma-Zukuri Chabune (伝間造茶船) – Part 2

In my last post, I discussed the building of a tenma-zukuri chabune from the Funakagami, and I stated that I was working on my model, but didn’t actually talk about building the model. The fact is that I wasn’t sure about what scale to build it at, given that a 1/10-scale model would end up being a little over two feet long, and I’m running low on space to display or store my models. So, I started a 1/20-scale model to see how I’d feel about the smaller scale.

I began by making a temporary internal frame. This would allow me to build the shiki, or bottom, and add the miyoshi, or stem, and the todate, or transom, at the proper angles. The same goes for the tana, or hull planks.

The longitudinal member of the framework is shaped directly from a copy of my plan drawing. The cross pieces are located at positions of the funabari, or beams, and are shaped according to my drawings.

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Building a Gozabune (Kobaya) from Paris Plans – Part 12

Work on the Kobaya is moving forward again. While coming up with a way to deal with the decorative patterns on the hull has held me up, I did have some ideas. But, the best I could think to do required the use of a new tool, and it took me a while to bight the bullet and buy it.

Note the pattern of the chain of hexagons and what look like little sunbursts in the Paris drawings.

The solution I came up with was to either create a mask for painting or possibly for the application of gold leaf, or to simply cut a pattern that was itself gold leafed. This probably sounds more complicated than it turned out to be. The central part of the solution turned out to be the use of a vinyl cutter, like those used in scrapbooking.
After looking at a few of the leading models, I finally made the leap and bought a Silhouette Cameo 3. I found one for about $200 online and spent another $150 or so on materials and accessories.
The closest competitor to this was the Cricket Maker, but it was more expensive and the drawing software was only usable online, requiring an internet connection to use. Having Internet is not an issue, but requiring it to use my own hardware or even to create drawings was not an idea I like supporting.
I was able to test out Silhouette’s drawing software for the Cameo, which was available as a free download from their website. That allowed me to determine that I would at least be able to create drawings of the things I needed it to cut.

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Building a Tenma-Zukuri Chabune (伝間造茶船) – Part 1

I completed what I believe is a good final draft of the Tenma-zukuri Chabune from the Funakagami, and I’m now working on my model. However, it appears that I am already late to my own game. Model builder Kouichi Ohata has already completed his model in 1/10 scale, and he’s done a beautiful job with the boat as well as with all the added details!

Kouichi Ohata’s model

With the help of fellow modeler Kouichi Ohata and my mentor Douglas Brooks, I’ve gone through several revisions of the plans – seven major ones, so far.

Tenma-zukuri chabune, from the Funakagami.

The biggest difficult has been in analyzing the single wood-block print of this type. Compared to other boats in the Funakagami, this one has a very flat bottom, showing no real rise at the stern, which may be possible, but it’s really throwing people, as it seems very unusual for a Japanese style boat. Continue reading

Building a Gozabune (Kobaya) from Paris Plans – Part 11

A yakata for the kobaya?
I’ve been looking at the yakata, or deck cabins, on the paintings of kobaya. Also, there is one from a larger gozabune that was removed and restored and on display at the museum at Kumamoto Castle. I’ve been in touch with ship modeling colleagues in Japan and they told me that it is from a ship called the Naminashi-maru (波奈之丸).

The restored yakata from the Naminashi-maru at the museum of Kumamoto Castle.

I’m still very confused about the dimensions. To me it looks very low, but I’m told the lower level is 1.7 to 2 meters high on the inside. Part of this, I assume is because the floor is below deck level, which is the case on my kobayabune.
To aid in design of the yakata, I’ve fitted a removable cardboard structure. This gives me a sense of size and appearance. I can’t really add the structure without the attendant framework over the whole ship for an awning.
I drew in some outlines for sliding doors and a railing atop the structure. Apparently, the passengers would also sit atop the structure. I’m not sure how they would climb up, but I’m assuming it would be with a “leg up” from one of the attendant samurai on the deck.

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