Interview with a Japanese Wooden Boatbuilder

Mr. Masashi Kutsuwa, whom I had the pleasure to meet at the Port Townsend Wooden Boat Festival in 2019, recently posted an interview on Youtube tat he had with one of Japan’s last traditional wooden boat builders, Mr. Seiichi Nasu. Mr. Nasu is now 89 and is no longer actively building boats, but he is still involved in teaching Japanese wooden boatbuilding.


American boatbuilder Douglas Brooks worked with Mr. Nasu in 2017 to build an ubune or ukaibune, which are used in the practice of cormorant fishing. Recently, a publication written in part by Mr. Brooks on the building the ubune was released, which is only available to the public in the form of a downloadable Japanese language pdf (see my July 17, 2020 post here:

Nasu-san lives in Gifu prefecture, where Kutsuwa-san also lives. The 10 minute interview is in Japanese, but Kutuswa-san has added english language subtitles. Not all the conversation is translated, but enough is translated to explain it. In the video, you’ll see a river boat that’s being built called a ryousen. The subtitles have it written as ryosen, but ryousen (漁船) means fishing boat in Japanese, and this particular boat is a 26-foot, double-ended river fishing boat.

This is a very nice video and it would interesting to see more, and longer, interviews of these disappearing traditional Japanese boatbuilders. Ω

3 thoughts on “Interview with a Japanese Wooden Boatbuilder

  1. I’ve been trying to find more information on the “momoji” tool that Nasu-san uses for drilling pilot holes. Even with Douglas Brook’s book I’ve only been able to find a reference to the Chinese equivalent(in The Junks and Sampans of the Yangtze) but nothing in Japanese. Have you taken a look into it?


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