The Tonegawa Takasebune (高瀬船) – a Model in 1/72 Scale, Part 5

In my last post on the building of the Tonegawa Takasebune, I got a bit overwhelmed with the making of the rice bales, or Tawara. I would have loved to configure the boat model with a full load of rice, but to do that would have required a lot more rice bales than what I’d made. My model has 39 of them, and I would have ideally wanted them filling the boat and stacked a couple layers higher. But, to do that would have required probably at least another 200, and that was more than I could handle.

So, my idea was to mix it up a little. I’d experimented with making simulated, covered buckets, or Oke (oh-kay), and this certainly turned out to be easier to make that the rice bales with all the rope wrappings. There was still a bit of a process, but a little production line made the construction simpler. I’d experimented with a couple sizes, but opted for the larger size, partly because it meant needing fewer of them.

Large oke in the center and a smaller one on the right. On the left is a stone hearth I made from polymer clay and painted.

My reasoning for the oke was that this boat must be coming down from the farmlands to the northwest of Edo, as it had a load of rice. But, it also was carrying loads of vegetables, loaded into the oke. It just seemed the safest way to transport small vegetables over a long distance. I don’t think the Japanese used crates at the time.

While dealing with the bucket production, I started to put “copper” on the boat. I’d tinkered with using thin copper shim and and adhesive backed copper foil, but nothing turned out that well. However, I’d recently been working on adding “copper” detailing on a 1/72-scale model of a large Japanese coastal transport. For that model, I ended up using brown adhesive-backed vinyl.

Simulated coppering worked out quite well on the Kitamaebune model.

As with the Kitamaebune model, I used my Silhouette Cameo to cut all the pieces I needed. However, as the beams are so small on the Takasebune, I ended up mostly creating narrow strips of adhesive-backed vinyl and then cutting them to length with a hobby knife as needed. But, some things, like the regular pattern of mortis coverings along the rubrail were measured out in the Silhouette Studio software.

On the rudder, or Kaji, the small rectangles represent actual iron nails and staple-like iron fasteners. These were simulated with black adhesive backed vinyl.

At this stage, that forestay running from the mast top down to the bow is just temporarily held in place with a piece of tape. I wasn’t sure how it should fasten to the deck yet.

In the above photo, you can see the final mast. Note how much less of an angle there is at the top end than what I originally had.

The next major step was to make the sail, and that took me a while to figure out how I was going to do it. I decided to experiment a bit in order to get the shape that is fairly unique to the way Japanese sails were made. The images on the covers of these books on Tonegawa Takasebune give you an idea of what I’m after.

Note how, unlike with western sailing ships and sailboats, the vertical panels of the sail billows out independently, mostly notably at the bottom.

To create this effect, I decided to cut the sail panels separately and glue a length of rigging line between each neighboring panel. Each panel is glued to the next one in a way that creates a kind of “V” shape in the seam.

To get the panels to hold their shape, I reated the piece of cloth with a product called Terial Magic. You basically soak the cloth in the stuff, wring it out, let it dry for a few minutes, then iron it. The resulting cloth will not fray and it cuts like paper. You can leave the treatment in, or you can wash it out if you prefer. I left it in, so the cloth stays stiff.

You might want to experiment with this stuff as it’s easy to use and it’s not that expensive. You can find it on Amazon here. Some larger arts & crafts stores carry it, but usually only in their online stores.

In any case, I went through at least two different sails, trying to figuring out the right technique, until I ended up with something I was satisfied with. To help simulate the billowing shape at the bottom, I trimmed the ends of the panels round.

The rigging lines separating the sail panels were left long, so I could tied them to the yard arm, called the Hogeta. I added a halliard, which I ran through the top of the mast and tied it off to the mast step structure.

At the foot of the sail, the help hold the sail out in a slightly billowing shape, I made a rope from a piece of brass wire, that I painted tan. It’s secured to the deck by a couple ring bolts and keeps it’s shape, forming an arch over the deck.

Sail in place while I struggle with making enough covered buckets as the next type of cargo.

There’s still some more cargo left and a few more details to talk about, but I’ll save that for the next post on the Togegawa Takasebune, which should also be the final post. Shouldn’t be too long for that, so stay tuned.

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