Building a Gozabune (Kobaya) from Paris Plans – Part 2

I have seen the coastal transport replica on Sado Island, the bezaisen Hakusan Maru, up close, inside and out. The construction seemed much different from the smaller hacchoro, the bonito fishing boat replica that I visited in Yaizu. This gozabune is about 17 meters long, the hacchoro of yaizu was about 13 meters long, and the Hakusan Maru, about

Lower Planks

From building the Hozugawa-bune and the Bekabune, I learned that a card stock pattern is the best way to get the shape of the lower edge of the lower plank. Taping the cardboard into place, I used a pencil to mark the outer line where the bottom and the lower plank came in contact. Then, measuring the width of the station lines in the Paris drawings, I marked out the points on the cardboard template and drew in the curve of the upper edge of the plank.

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Can a Kobaya be Built from Paris Plans?

Kobaya is a term for a type of smaller military style vessel that is fast and maneuverable. Highly ornate versions of these and larger military vessels called sekibune were used by daimyo and their clans for ceremonial and other official purposes. I don’t know about the smaller ones, but the larger ones were called gozabune. In my limited experience, smaller gozabune are often referred to by their military name, kobayabune or simply kobaya, which means “small and fast.”


Photo of a 30-oar kobaya, of small fast-boat, from a display of models built by Yukio Nakayama. Photo is courtesy of The Rope.

Ship modelers building American or European subjects are accustomed to finding detailed drawingsfor the more popular of these vessels. There are even large numbers of plans made specifically for ship modelers. But, unlike with western subjects, there is a dearth of plans of Japanese watercraft. I’ve found plenty of sketches and there are basic line drawings that might be used, but these commonly don’t have the information needed to build a proper model.

One reason for this is that Japanese boatbuilders don’t have a tradition of recording their work, and they generally only make temporary drawings on wood, sometimes destroying them when done.

Japanese boatbuilder’s plank drawings. Photo courtesy of Douglas Brooks.

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