Sanjugokubune (三十石舟) Information Discovery

My apologies for not posting more information and updating my wasen modeling site very much lately. There are other things I’ve been trying to get done, and between this pandemic and the heaviness of having my mom in a nursing facility, I’m definitely not at my best. I did finally have a chance to play some traditional Japanese music with my music group at a couple events in Santa Rosa and San Francisco these past few weeks, but it’s not really enough.

It wasn’t until I set aside some things I’ve been trying to get done, and started paying attention to my wasen modeling, that things started feel so much better. So, I guess I’m going to have to make more time for wasen models, for mental health reasons, if nothing else!

The Sanjugokubune (三十石舟)

The most recent wasen topic that’s been on my mind is a type of riverboat transportation called the Sanjugokubune. These were large river boats that operated between Osaka and Kyoto during the Edo period. They are very famous for providing regular, scheduled, daily service for both cargo and passengers. I read somewhere that hundreds of these boats operated on this regular route every day.

In a recent post, I provided a link to a Youtube clip of a Sanjugokubune related story. More on that here.

I’ve dug through all my references, over and over again, and I’ve noted that this boat is of a style of construction found in this part of Japan, and I don’t quite understand it. Paris, in the Souvenirs de Marine, shows a boat that has the same type of hull form, but I still don’t really quite understand what I’m seeing. I also don’t know why Paris says this was found in Osaka Bay, but then says it’s a northern fishing boat. I suppose “northern” is a relative term. I mean, it’s northern in comparison to Kyushu, Okinawa, or the Philippines, etc.

Fishing boat from Osaka Bay recorded by Lt. Armand Paris, published in Souvenirs de Marine.

This style of hull construction generally matches what I’ve seen in many drawings of sanjugokubune, though it doesn’t match the hull of one of the more famous wood block prints by Hiroshige. I don’t know why that is. Perhaps it was just a matter of different boat builders. Without a lot more research, I really don’t know. In any case, I’d really like to model one of these, so I’ve been digging around book and the Internet trying to find some information.

Hiroshige Sanjugokubune

Hiroshige print depicting a Sanjugokubune with a different hull construction style when compared to the boat in the Paris drawing.

Well, today, I finally stumbled across something useful – a blog by a Mr. Tomohiko Ogawa. I don’t know anything about him, but he apparently has an interest in wasen and he posted some very valuable information on his blog. I’m only just beginning to sift through everything. There is specific information and drawings he’s posted, but he also provided links to some documents that may provide a lot of information on the construction of the type.

I found out that Douglas Brooks knows of him, as Mr. Ogawa had come to see him work once or twice when he was doing some wasen building in Japan a couple years back. So, I managed to find an email address and reached out to him. I’ll report what I hear back from him, but in the meantime, if you want to check out this information directly yourself, you can find the link here:

I’ll be translating and sorting through it all, myself. Stay tuned for follow up info. Ω

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