Edo Canal Diorama

With multiple projects going on, my brain gets a little tangled up. So… I begin another project! Actually, this one has been in my head for more than a year – maybe two? The idea is to create some kind of Edo period scene using one of my wasen models – Ideally, one that already exists, so I don’t have to start yet another project.

This diorama I’ve settled on, is a simple scene based around my tenma-zukuri chabune. It will be pulling up to a small landing at edge of one of the many canals in the built-up part of Edo. I laid out the scene so that it will fit one of the small display cases that I have already have.

I won’t go into a lot of detail here, but basically, the main inspirations for this diorama, are scenes depicted at the Fukagawa Edo Museum, and also the Nakagawa Funabansho Museum.

Scene depicted at the Nakagawa Funabansho Museum.

Fukagawa Edo Museum

My diorama is too small to be able to incorporate much “on the ground”, which is probably just as well for this project, as I would otherwise have to get good at replicating 18th or early 19th century building construction, and develop a better understanding of the city streets of old Edo.

One day, I hope I’ll be able to build Edo period buildings and streets. But, I don’t think this particular scene will demand too much of that. It will be enough that I will need to understand how moorings and small docks would have been constructed.

As it is, I’m now having to learn more about diorama construction, and have spent time finding ways to represent people in various scales. This includes getting a better sense of how the boatmen, or sendō, were dressed, and how to model that.

I’ll post more about this later, but I wanted to get something written up first, with some photos of my preliminary planning.

The figure, by the way, is a 3D printed, fully articulated figure kit, that I purchased and assembled. I don’t know if I’ll use him, or the sendō figure that I sculpted from polymer clay some time ago. Ω

 

Building a Traditional Japanese Boat at the University of Illinois

Recently Douglas Brooks completed the teaching of a Japanese boatbuilding apprenticeship class at Japan House. 18 students participated in the week long class which culminated in the construction and launching of a Honryousen, a long, narrow riverboat found in Niigata prefecture, Japan.

Read more about it in this article posted on the Illinois News Bureau website here: https://news.illinois.edu/view/6367/789104783#image-2

Book: Illustration of Japanese Fishing Boat and Fishing Gear

There are few books printed in english on the subject of Japanese traditional boats and their uses, so I was intrigued when a search on the Internet came across this title and just a couple pictures from the book’s interior that showed a rough sketch of a traditional Japanese fishing boat and provided a little basic text description in both english and Japanese.

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Ogura Pond Boat (巨椋池舟) in 1/10 Scale

Back in August (2021), I discovered Japanese boat builder and artist, Mr. Tomohiko Ogawa, who had written several posts on his own blog about his research of a couple wasen in the Kyōto area. One was a type called a Sanjikokku bune (三十石舟), a famous type of river transport for passengers and cargo between Kyōto and Ōsaka. This type was well known to me, so his post on the subject caught my attention.

Hiroshige Sanjugokubune

Hiroshige print depicting a Sanjikkokubune (三十石舟)

However, I soon discovered another subject that he wrote about, and that I wasn’t specifically familiar with. And, it soon became clear that this second boat was of a style that I had been very curious about. The boat was a small boat used for fishing and for lotus viewing on the old Ogura pond in Kyōto. It was of a style called a kensakibune (剣先舟) or sword-tipped boat, so named because the hull planks came directly together at the bow, with no stem in between, forming a sharp tip, shaped like the tip of a Japanese Samurai sword. Continue reading

Youtube Videos Posted

I got somewhat ambitious this week before Christmas, putting together two new slideshow videos on Youtube, the most recent one being posted just yesterday. The videos show the build processes of the Himi Tenmasen and the Hozugawa Ayubune models. Each also connects the model to the full-sized boatbuilding project that it’s based on, which of course are works involving boatbuilder Douglas Brooks, who provided me with his notes on the construction of the boats.

Hozugawa Ayubune (保図川鮎舟) – Hozu River fishing boat. 1/10-scale model.

 

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Website Changes

This week, I finally decided to invest a little money into this site, moving it from a free wordpress site to a paid one, so I can make some improvements to it. The first of those you may notice is that the ads should be gone now. I never see them myself, so I have no idea how annoying they might be to visitors.

The next thing I did was that I made a gallery page that has all the wasen models I’ve done, all in one page. This was in connection with a suggestion a friend had about sending out a list of all my wasen models. Now, I can easily do that by just sending a link.

You’ll note that I now have a slightly rearranged menu, with the new Wasen Mokei menu closer to the front of the menus since there are now enough completed models to give more emphasis to the completed models rather than to the build logs and blog posts. They’re all there, it’s just a matter of order, really.

The gallery I initially had for other builder’s models still exists, but now relabeled Models by Others, and can be found under the Wasen Mokei menu, right after Models by Clare. Anyway, I do need to do some self promotion here, and I was thinking about creating a site to show my completed models. But, that seemed too much, hence the modifications to this site.

This is all part of the long range goal of making this more of a resource site for those looking for information on wasen, their history, construction, and models, and less about what wood I’ve glued together this week. The blog entries will continue though. So, if your here just to see wasen models going together, there should still be plenty of that.

I’m still looking to share about any wasen models being built by other people. So, please let me know if you’re working on something. Click here for contact info.

Atakebune Kit Now Available

Woody Joe has officially announced the release of their new Atakebune kit. This kit is based on the model at the Saga Prefectural Nagoya Castle Museum, which is located near Fukuoka, Japan. That model represents a large Atakebune, which was the largest class of warship used by the Japanese armies during their warring states period.

The 1/100-scale kit sells for ¥38,000, which at the current exchange is about $335. Woody Joe will begin shipping the kits to resellers this coming Sunday, October 31st, but you can place your order now.

Japanse online hobby deal Zootoyz has the kit listed here: https://www.japan-wooden-model-kits-zootoyz.shop/contents/en-us/p25066.html

From the kit photos, the model looks a little on the simple side, but that just leaves room for some good detailing. As posted before, the dimensions of the kit are: Length 490mm Width 230mm Height 310mm (overall, including oars and stand).

I have two kits on order, which will hopefully arrive within a couple weeks. I’ll post a brief out of the box review when I get them. Ω

A Day of Display at the SF Asian Art Museum

Sunday, October 17th, was my first display at the San Francisco Asian Art Museum and it went pretty well. It was a bit stressful getting everything together in time, but once I had all the models displayed and was talking to people about them, it was pretty relaxing. The event was just a one day showing, and there were many other things taking place as part of the event.

I had 10 of my completed models on display, and I decided to bring several models that I had in early stages of construction, so I could show how I build them. Information cards provided visitors with the basic information about the model and what it represented. There was a lot of information I had to leave out in order to fit the text onto those large index cards.

Behind the models, I displayed what artwork I could find that showed the specific boat types in Japanese prints and paintings.

Four of the models were built from kits, including Woody Joe’s Hacchoro, Yakatabune, and Kitamaebune, as well as Thermal Studio’s Tosa Wasen. That’s probably the weakness of this specific display, as I think most people would like to see models that I built from scratch, and most of those that I have are smaller boats, whose detailed construction I’ve been studying.

The bigger models attract the most attention, and they are kit builds. For my Japantown bank window displays, I mostly use the kits. For displays at the Asian Art Museum, it would have been nice to focus on the scratch builds. It’s something I’ll work on in the future. It means not only scratch building more models, but models of larger boat types, and ideally, models with sails, as they attract the most attention.

I had several in-progress projects on hand to illustrate how the models are built. This drew some interest too, though I didn’t have much time to actually demo the construction of the models in the morning, as that’s when I had the most people coming, asking questions about the models.

The best part is probably that it got the interest of many kids. There was one in particular, who was half Japanese with a Japanese mother and an American born father. He was maybe 8 and spent a lot of time hanging out with his dad and he was the most interested. So, I showed him everything I could that he seemed the most interested in. He had lots of questions and his dad was very encouraging. His mother came by too. She was originally from Ibaraki prefecture, around Lake Kasumigaura, which is well known for a type of side-trawling fishing boat called a Hobikisen.

The display was pretty well received, but it would be a lot easier to set it up somewhere, and leave it for a period time, like when I have my Japantown displays in the Union Bank window. They still won’t allow that due to Covid restrictions. Makes absolutely no sense to me, and I think the bank management is just being lazy about it. Japantown needs more things of interest and putting these in their community room window isn’t likely to increase the spread Covid.

I talked to a few visitors who had some ideas about displaying them again in Japantown, so well see what I can do again. In the meantime, I have some other display possibilities I will look into for maybe early 2022. Ω

Utasebune 打瀬船 Fishing Boat – 1/72 Scale Model from Paris Drawings – Part 1

The Souvenirs de Marine is a multi-volume collection of drawings that are the basis for many of the models in the French National Maritime Museum. The book was put together by Edmond Pâris and originally published in the 1880s. Among the collection of drawings of watercraft from around the world are several Japanese boats that were recorded by French Lieutenant Armand Paris, mostly in the areas of Osaka and Edo in the 1860s.

These drawings provide the only detailed records of some of the watercraft depicted. These include large coastal transports, fishing boats, pleasure boats, a large yacht owned by one of the many feudal lords, a row galley in the service of the Shogun, etc.

Now, I’ve built a model of the row galley, which is referred to in Japanese as a Kobaya, though there are some features that I feel that the drawing is missing, as the ship was out of service for some time and in disprepair, following the fall of the Shogun’s government many years earlier. So, that model remains technically unfinished.

However, there is an intriguing looking fishing boat that’s detailed in the available drawings. The boat is only described as a fishing boat, but it is quite large at 17 meters long, a little over 55 feet. But, what stands out the most is the unusual downward turn of the bow. This is the first time I’d seen this kind of feature. But, it turns out that it wouldn’t be the last time.

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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.

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