Building a Gozabune (Kobaya) from Paris Plans – Part 10

It’s been well over a month since I last posted my progress on the Kobaya-bune. And, while it doesn’t look much different, I did complete the deck planks and gave the hull a couple coats of gloss polyurethane, in an attempt to simulate the lacquer used on the real vessel.

I must have put on thick coats, because the surface has been tacky for a while. It doesn’t help that the weather is a little on the damp and cool side. No matter, I’m not really prepared for the next step, which is to add the decoration, as well as the metal mortise covers, etc.

I’ve also been giving some consideration to the background of this vessel and its design, and, as I believe I’ve mentioned before, I feel that some things are missing (aside from the rudder and rudder gallows that I will add after the decorations are done). Given that this ship was described as abandoned and in poor condition by Lt. Paris, when he made the drawings, it’s quite likely that some items had been removed at the time.
I’ve been reviewing Mr. Yukiyo Nakayama’s models of the boats of the Shōgun and, besides marveling at them, I’ve been trying to figure out where his source material came from. He has a model of a vessel called the Kirin-Maru, which I’ve noted is very similar to my model, but has a house located near the bow, where I have just bare planks. His model also has tall posts around the rail on which a large awning is mounted, shading the entire deck.
I’ve since located a painting of the Kirin-Maru as well as a treasure trove of paintings of similar vessels that were part of the Shōgun’s collection. These paintings were apparently part of a collection compiled during the Meiji period by something called the Museum Bureau – I’m not sure, but I’m assuming that’s a government run organization.

Painting of the Kirin-Maru from the Boats of the Shōgun collection in the Tokyo National Museum

The collection was called “Boats of the Shōgun” and was the subject of an exhibit at the Tokyo National Museum. The exhibit was back in 2007, but many images are available online. I don’t know if all the images are there. I’m hoping there are more that would include the ship depicted by my model, though I don’t know if I’ll ever get to see it if it does exist. But, what is available in the image search is something of a treasure trove, and you can view the ones I found here:
If you’re curious about the exhibit, there’s a page about it here:
In any case, you’ll notice that all of boats have vertical posts along the rails to mount a large awning to shade the whole deck. Paris also makes mention of what he calls a “flying hut”, and I believe he’s referring to a cabin like the one on Kirin-Maru. There are some boats illustrated that have no such cabin, but those also don’t have a “sunken” are of the foredeck.
I’m now in the process of planning out what features I feel are missing and collecting some opinions on the subject from people in Japan who might be more familiar with the topic. Meanwhile, I’m also researching ways to add the various decorations. More on this next time.



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