May 2021 Wasenmodeler Update

After some time off to finish a medieval European cog model and to gain some ground on a couple other ship modeling projects, I started working on wasen models again. It is interesting, though, to have the cog model and a sengokubune model (the Kitamaebune is a class of sengokubune, a common term for this type of coastal transport), sitting close together, as they are both in 1/72 scale.

My models of a medieval european cog (foreground, left) and kitamaebune (background, right), both in 1/72 scale. Different eras and regions, but still interesting to see them side-by-side.

My Tonegawa Takasebune model, also in 1/72 scale, still needs a little detailing, but I finally completed the sail for it, which is what I was really focussing on, so I could take what I learned back to my Kitamaebune model. So, that’s what I’m working on now, though it’s somewhat slow going.

The Tonegawa Takasebune’s sails is so small in comparison with the Kitamaebune’s sail. It’s just a single panel made up of 7 short strips of cloth. The Katamaebune is 24 long strips, divided into four panels.

I’ve finally consigned myself to only simulating strips for such a large sail, whereas the Takasebune’s sail is really made up of separate strips, glued together. Instead, I’m using a sewing machine, and the stitching simulates the edges of the strips. But, I’m still hoping to  use some method to fasten the four panels together. Maybe by hand sewing, or simply gluing them together in such a way as to emphasize that these are separate panels.

But, I’m a bit frustrated by how hard a time I’ve had at coming up with a good representation of the large ship’s sail. And, there’s still no guarantee that I can make this work out the way I’d like. Worst case, I’ll end up making the sail one more time in one big piece. But, I’m looking forward to a finished sail, one way or the other, so I can complete the Kitamaebune model, so I can get on with my various wasen projects, which includes yet another sengokubune model, Woody Joe’s Higaki Kaisen kit, which I was gifted years ago.

Also, there are the 1/20-scale Senzanmaru, Kawasemi, and Chokibune models to eventually finish up, though I need to leave them in their current stages until after my talk on modeling tradition Japanese boats.


That talk, by the way, is a free zoom-based event that takes place on Thursday, May 27th, 11am. I expect to keep it from being too technical, as it’s geared for the general public, so don’t expect a complete how-to on modeling Japanese traditional boat. But, if there’s enough interest, I may consider doing more zoom-based talks geared toward modelers.

You’re supposed to be able to find out more at the San Francisco Maritime National Historic Park here: However, I think there are a lot of technical issues with the website not being maintained correctly, so just be patient and check back until it all makes sense – I’ve had to email them on multiple occasions about problems with the site. Hopefully, my end of the event, the talk itself, will go well enough!

Why is there a clipper ship on this page? Don’t ask me. It has nothing to do with the talk, and it’s not even my model.

I plan to discuss a bit of my model building history and how I got into the Japanese boats, my connection with boatbuilder Douglas Brooks, building Japanese boats from kits, building them from scratch, and researching sources of information on them. I’ll also try to show some examples in the stages of modeling the boats, MAYBE try to show an example of cutting mortises as a demo too (awfully small to show in a zoom talk), and just talk about the boats themselves through my models.

There’s a lot to cram in, so it will just end up being a grand overview. But, if there’s enough interest, as I believe I’ve mentioned earlier, if this works out well enough, I may expand on the idea and offer some kind of zoom based workshop on building a model. But, only if there’s enough interest.


Well, with this talk looming, as well as a technical run-through, plus other work I need to do (the money making kind), I feel a bit like I’m spinning my wheels on model work right now. Spending a lot of energy, but not really getting anywhere. A bit of nervous energy building up.

But, I’ve been wanting to get people educated on the subject of these Japanese traditional boats and models, so it’s all a good thing… even though they attached a clipper ship photo to the talk announcement.

In the meantime, I don’t expect to get much else done over the next couple weeks. But, after that, when the talk is done, I’ll be charging ahead. So stay tuned!




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