Here I’ve listed, in no particular order, some online resources that I’ve used to help in the researching of traditional Japanese watercraft. Of course, many of these sites are in Japanese, but Google Translate is helpful there. Some sites offer english language pages, but they are often limited, and you may find it necessary to go back and forth between the original Japanese web pages and the page translated into english.
I’ll be adding to this as I go, since there is so much that will eventually end up here. I’m notating in the title if the site is available in english.
Note that blue titles indicate website links. Where there is a choice in languages, there are separate web links for each language. Some sites are only in Japanese, so I only made the Japanese titles into active links.
Japan Marine Engineering Society’s Digital Shipbuilding Museum
This is an information disemination site for the Japan Society of Naval Architects. There is some mention of older ships here, but it is very limited. Of most use may be the report (Report 12), on the drawings of Japanese ships by A. Paris, and published in the Souvenirs de Marine by F.E. Paris.
Kenjo Tanii and Seisho’s Art School
This site appears to be dedicated to the art of Mr. Kenjo Tanii who worked with the well known researcher of wasen, Professor Kenji Ishii. The site appears to be run by Mr. Tanii’s son. There is some nice illustration and historical information on Japenese maritime history here.
This is a wonderful website with an english version that is very good. It is all about Kitamaebune, and is designated a Japan Heritage website. It should answer most questions you may have about the background of these ships.
Nippon Foundation Library
A true treasure trove of information that keeps turning up more material on Japanese watercraft than I have time to look at. In 2016, I wrote a blog post on this online resource and identified a few specific items of interest. There is much more here than I’ve located. Check the post for more details: Nippon Zaidan blog post.
The university maintains a digital collection of drawings and documents of old Japanese ships and the system is accessible in english. However, the documents and viewable writing connected with the images is in Japanese. One of the most interesting collections for wasen enthusiasts is in Japanese, and it is called Komaba Library Dai Nihon Kaishi Hensan Shiryo (大日本海志編纂資料), or the Great Japan Sea Collection.
Minamichita is a township that sits on the peninsula that separates Ise Bay and Mikawa Bay to the south of Nagoya. That city has a small website that offers various information about this area that was once a shipowner’s village. Among the items of interest is a viewer for examining a 3D digital model of a sengokubune. The site also has photos of some intersting shipboard artifacts and descriptions of them, and also describes some historical documents that give some insight into the lives of sailors and the operations of these ships. The site can be viewed in english or Japanese.