Last weekend, I had a number of models on display at the Good Sam Showcase of Miniatures, which consisted mostly of my wasen models. This was the first time I’d had any of my Japanese watercraft models on display since January, and it seems to have spurred me to get back to work on some wasen model projects. While I have the two Woody Joe kits to finish up, those being the Kitamaebune and Atakebune kits, I also have two scratch models I stated long ago, the whaleboat-style Senzanmaru, and the small Nitaribune based on the late Fujiwara-san’s boat Kawasemi.
I’m playing a little “catch up” on my blog regarding the Oguraike boat. As a reminder, this is a boat used for fishing and sightseeing in Kyōto, which was the former capital of Japan, prior to the Edo period. The boats were used until the pond was drained in the 1930s as part of a reclaimation project. My model is a 1/10-scale reproduction, based on the research of Mr. Tomohiko Ogawa, an artist and boatbuilder living in Kyōto.
Again, I don’t know the term for the bottom connecting plank, but with it now in place, I went ahead and added these mortises. On the actual boat, nails are driven into the side, to fasten the plank to the shiki, or bottom board. Nails are also driven up through the bottom edge, to fasten the plank to the hull plank. On the real boat, it would make more sense for this to be nailed first to the hull plank, then that whole plank assembly nailed to the bottom board.
I’d been making progress on the Ogura Pond Boat up through the month of March, but I hadn’t posted very much information about it here. Last I posted was back in January. At that time, I had glued up the three boards that make up the shiki, or bottom plate of the boat. Next is to shape the shiki, which is really quite easy the way I’m building these models. It simply requires printing out a portion of the drawings I’m using.
In this drawing, you’ll notice that I’ve marked out the mortises as well. This was something that was not on the original drawings, but I could see some of them in Ogawa-san’s photos. As I mentioned in my last post, what’s special here is that the mortises clearly aren’t perpendicular with the edges of the planks. This is something I’ve never seen this before, except where an occasional mortise has to angled to avoid a knot in the wood or similar reason. Here, however, they seem to be regularly placed so that the nails are driven at a slight angle towards the bow.
After some time away to work on the Oguraike boat and to get some traditional western ship modeling done for the newly restarting ship model meetings here in the San Francisco Bay Area, finally got back to finishing the sanding the sculling oars on my Atakebune model. I guess the model only needs 66 of them, but I’m sure I counted 72 in the kit. Maybe there are spares.
There’s more to do on these, as I’m thinking I’ll probably add the “heads” to them, or at least some of them that might end up visible if I leave any of the doors open in the box structure, or yagura.
It’s time to finish the Atakebune’s castle structure. Basically, what’s left is to add the pieces that fit under the eaves of the roofs and also to install some edging pieces and then some final decorative details to the rooftops.
Continuing with the Atakebune’s castle structure, I began looking at the little walkway and decorative railing at the back end of the structure. Considering that I’ve lowered the main deck of the ship, I needed to know how high above the deck this railing would be. So, I assembled the pieces to allow me to test fit the parts in place. While I was at it, I made one small modification here, which was to make the walkway from separate strips of wood, using the kit provided pieces as patterns for the walkways.
The completed walkway was actually all that I needed. It also needed to fit perfectly in place, which took a few minor adjustments.
While I went ahead and glued the walkway into place, I didn’t want to permanently add the railing, as it’s pretty delicate, and I was worried that it would get damaged during the remaining construction on the castle structure.
It was nice to see how this railing will add a splash of color to the final model, pretty much the only parts that aren’t going to be natural wood color, or painted gray or white.
Next up was to begin working on the castle structure roof. most of which is made from milled material that resembles a tiled roof. However, the roof of the forward part of the castle structure, specifically the one I extended, was designed to be made up of individual arch-shaped pieces. Since that section has been lengthened, the provided roof pieces would no longer work. What I did then, was to use the provided pieces as beams, and for the roof itself, I cut a piece of thin pear wood veneer.
I don’t have photos of all the work I did on this roof section, but it took a little work to attach the “beams” together, so that I could mount the thin roof material. I used a couple wood strips under the beams to create a rigid framework, but this required me to cut away some of the wood that would be under the roof to make room for these added wood strips.
Once the beam assembly was ready, I could simply cut the wood veneer and glue it to the beams. Plastic clamps held the roof in place, causing the veneer to take on the curvature of the beams while the glue set.
With this particular roof section done, I could complete the rest of the castle structure roofing. This type of construction is quite fun, and it’s very different from any ship modeling work I’ve done before. I’m already familiar with building these castle roofs as I built Woody Joe’s Iwakuni-Jo castle several years ago, one of their smaller castle kits. I won’t go into a lot of detail here and just offer some progress photos.
While working on the castle structure and waiting for glue to dry, I decided it was time to tackle the modification of the stern structure. I was a bit hesitant to do this, but I saw how nicely Kazunori Morikawa’s model looked with the modified section, and I thought it really made the overall shape of the ship nicer. So, I began dismantling the stern section.
Turns out that because I used original formula Titebond wood glue, I could simply use water to soften the glue joints. As a fellow ship modeler pointed out, rubbing alcohol works well, and won’t raise the wood grain or cause the wood to swell or warp.
I was basically able to extend the internal structure of the stern by 15mm. This didn’t change the shape of the rear wall, just the side walls of the extension. So, I was able to use some of the parts I removed. However, I did have to make a new deck section, as the shape had changed due to the new dimensions.
Once the extensions were added to the internal structure, it was all pretty easy to build it all back up again.
Finally, I was able to finish the initial roof placement and add the remaining coaming and lower trim of the castle structure, as well as to add the stanchions and complete the external trim of the stern section today.
Next time, I’ll be adding the simulated beams under the eaves of the tile roofing, and adding the details that remain for the rooftops. After that, I’ll be giving some thought to finishing the lower hull modifications I had been planning.
One of the features of this particular Atakebune that make it so interesting is the castle structure. Most Atakebune were simpler and just had nothing more than a single roofed house for the commander to oversee the battle. But, on this ship, the castle is very prominent. On the model, it makes for a nice project in itself.
Construction starts with the basic foundation structure, which is made to fit inside the opening in the deck. It was somewhat of a tight fit, so the opening had to be adjusted. You’ll notice a little piece of the base sticking out at what is the front of the structure. This is because there is a small structure at the front, which I’ve been considering modifying to more closely match the model at the Saga Prefectural Nagoya Castle Museum of which this model is based. The design of this section is nice in that you can mostly work on this structure separate from the rest of the model. Continue reading
Updates on the progress of the Atakebune model are long overdue. The project has been continuing, and I’ve done quite a bit. But, I’ve been quite slow on writing posts. So, I’ll try to get partially caught up here, but I’ll probably need to write another post soon to finish catching up.
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.
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
Yet, another brief progress update, so soon after the last one. It seems I’m having fun and feeling more comfortable with the changes I’ve been making on this new Woody Joe kit. Here, I’ve gone through test fitting the box structure shell and then seeing how well it will mate with the lower hull.