Japanese Boat Models Display 7.0

Just last week, on a rainy March 1st morning, I packed up my car with stands, posters, models, signs, and accessories, and drove 2 hours through traffic to set up the latest and largest Japanese boat models display yet. 7 models in all are on display in the window of the Union Bank community room in the Japan Center Mall from now through the end of March.

This year, Woody Joe’s Hacchoro, Higaki Kaisen, and Yakatabune are prominently featured, along with Thermal Studios’ Tosa Wasen, and my scratch built Hozugawa Ayubune, Urayasu Bekabune and Kamakura period Umibune.

Just over half of these models are based on kits, mostly from Woody Joe. And, if your interested in building one of these wonderful kits, of course, I always recommend Zootoyz.jp as your source for Woody Joe, and other kits. Here is some information on the models in this display – click on their titles to go to a website where you can purchase the kits.

Hacchoro, top. Urayasu Bekabune, bottom.


Hacchoro, 8-oared bonito fishing boat. This is a 1/24-scale kit produced by Woody Joe of Japan. It’s an inexpensive and relatively easy to build kit with an impressive appearance due it’s size, sail arrangement and number of oars.

Urayasu Bekabune, a 1 or 2 person seaweed gathering boat from Tokyo Bay. This is a 1/10-scale scratch built model I recently completed using information provide by boat builder Douglas Brooks, and is one of the boats featured in his book, Japanese Wooden Boatbuilding.

Urayasu Bekabune


Higaki-kaisen, top. Hozugawa Ayubune, bottom.

Higaki Kaisen, an Edo period coastal transport. This 1/72-scale kit is one of the most detail model kits produced by Woody Joe of Japan. It took a few months to build due to the detailed internal features. Unfortunately, all these details are too hard to see in a display of this type. This was a really fun kit to build, and I wrote a couple ship modeling articles on it in the Nautical Research Journal and, more recently, a detailed rundown of the model’s construction in Seaways’ Ships in Scale magazine.

Higaki Kaisen

Hozugawa Ayubune, a small, Hozu river fishing boat. This is another 1/10-scale scratch built model, and one of my more recent. Like the Bekabune, this was based on notes I got from boatbuilder Douglas Brooks. It’s a fairly simple design, and was much easier to build than the Bekabune, so it became my first completed scratch built Japanese boat model.

Hozugawa Ayubune


Yakatabune, bottom of photo.

Yakatabune is a pleasure boat from the rivers and canals of old Edo. This is the third kit from Woody Joe of Japan. Another 1/24-scale model, like the Hacchoro, the Yakatabune was a  fairly easy model to build. I modified the kit somewhat, adding more painted trim to approximate what I’ve seen in wood block prints of the period. I also customized the interior to include zabuton cushions and a little 1/24-scale shamisen, a traditional Japanese instrument I play.



Kamakura period Umibune, top. Tosa Wasen, bottom.

Kamakura period Umibune, is a large inland sea trade boat from the around 1200 A.D. This is a 1/50-scale scratch build, though it’s not yet complete. There are still more details to go, but it’s something of a research project and there is a bit of figuring out left to do.

Kamakura period Umibune

Tosa Wasen, a small fishing boat from southern Shikoku. This 1/10-scale model comes from a beautifully designed kit from Thermal Studio in Japan. It’s a small production manufactured kit, so it’s a bit hard to find. The only consistent seller is the manufacturer itself, but it’s worth the effort to get this kit.

Tosa Wasen

I hope you have a chance to visit the display and see my models. If you’re interested in building a model of Japanese boat, I highly recommend the Hacchoro as a starter. It’s relatively easy to build and one of the least expensive kits. Plus, it has the largest size of the kits available. Purchase the kit from Zootoyz.jp and download a copy of my notes and translated instructions here. Feel free to contact me through the comments box on this web page if you have any questions about the build. Ω


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