Marukobune in Film Clip of Ishimatsu Sanjugokubune (石松三十石舟)

As a wasen modeler, how awesome is it to be able to see film footage that actually shows a Lake Biwa Marukobune (丸子船) under sail? Recently, someone posted a Youtube link on Facebook to a clip from an old Japanese movie. At the start of the clip, you can see a Marukobune setting out.These boats were used for carrying cargo and passengers on Japan’s Lake Biwa.

Late period Marukobune on display at the Lake Biwa Museum.

Unfortunately, my Japanese skills are pretty poor, and my knowledge of Japanese cinema and well known Japanese stories is mostly non-existent. So, I’m not even positive if the title of the clip is from the title of the actual film. But, it refers to a Rokyoku, which is a type of story telling to musical accompaniment (to shamisen – a 3-stringed lute played with a plectrum) that was apparently very popular in the early to mid-1900s.

This particular one is called 石松三十石舟, Ishimatsu Sanjugokubune. or Ishimatsu 30-stone boat, and it is apparently quite famous. I won’t go into details of what it is about, you can look that up and you can hear it throughout this film clip. What matters to me, of course, is that you can see some interesting footage of a Marukobune.

Now, again I have to preface that I am not an expert on wasen – just a student, but the one thing that causes me some pause here, is that while a Marukobune is shown, there is a specific type of boat that carried passengers up and down the Yodo river between Osaka and Kyoto that was called a Sanjugokubune. This isn’t that boat. Maybe that’s explained in the film somewhere, or maybe that’s all that was available for the film.

Hiroshige print depicting a Sanjugokubune

Hiroshige print depicting a Sanjugokubune

But, rather than dwell on why a Marukobune is shown, I’ll just leave it to you to enjoy the film footage. One of these days, I’m hoping to visit the Lake Biwa Museum and see the  boats and models there, and to try modeling a Marukobune… but a Sanjugokubune model would be pretty cool too!  Ω

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