The Tonegawa Takasebune (高瀬船) – a Model in 1/72 Scale, Part 6 – Final

I finally managed to finish enough cargo to call that stage of the model complete… Or, at least as complete as it’s going to get for this model. As you can see in the photos below, I’ve come up with a third kind of cargo. Probably not a very accurate type, as it appears to be some kind of finished product.

Perhaps the boat is carrying something downriver from one of the larger towns along the way where somebody produces a product that’s very flat. I think it might be somewhat unlikely that the boat should carry rice bales, some kind of vegetable in buckets, plus some kind of finished goods. But, I think it looks good, and keeps the viewers wondering what kind of goods those can be.

By the way, you’ll notice in the photo below, and the previous one above, that the main stay runs down to the deck and I had to make a small structure that’s effectively a pair of bits holding a simple winch. This was not on the drawings I was using, but appears on many of these boats. Without more knowledge of how the stay might be secured, this seemed to be reasonable.

The stay leads down to a simple wooden block, which I basically copied from those on the Woody Joe Kitamaebune model. The block I made is a very simple teardrop shape with no sheave. I don’t know this for sure, but I believe early blocks in Japan did not have a sheave. This was suggested to me by someone I spoke with in Japan when I visited the Hacchoro in Yaizu harbor.

At the top end of the stay is a small loop that goes around the mast from the back side. The stay itself goes back over the loop and down the front side. In this way, the stay holds itself in place.

I completed the rigging by securing the halliard, and adding braces that hold the yard at a proper angle. I also added parrals that hold the yard to the mast.

Larger Japanese boats basically had two loops around the mast with wooden battens attached that prevented chafing of the ropes. At 1/72 scale, this feature is pretty small, but still noticeable. I simply cut some tiny wooden strips to use for the battens and glued them a couple thin ropes across their backs. Some double-sided tape helped hold them into place on the work surface while the ropes were tape down across the battens as the glue dried.

The final assembly was tied to the yard, and hung somewhat loosely around the mast. This feature appears on the larger coast transports as well, but I haven’t seen anything like this on small boats. I don’t know how large a boat would have to have been before it required something like this.

The last step in the construction of the Tonegawa Takasebune was to add some working “stuff” into place. I figured there needs to be a plank, which can be used for loading and unloading, as well as for walking over the top of the cargo, as well as a pole or too for pushing the boat along where necessary, and a sculling oar for the same.

I also folded a piece of painted tissue paper to represent a matt or tarp that could be used to cover some of the cargo in bad weather. I say tarp here, but I suppose that really depends on when this boat is represented, as it was used up into the early 20th century, and probably back into at least the 18th century, but I really don’t know how far back it goes. Something to look into.

In any case, in early days, the tarp would have actually been more like a thin straw mat. Realistically, these boat probably would have been piled high with as much cargo as they could handle, and the straw mat would probably allow the boatmen to better secure the cargo, as they could tie the mat down over the cargo to help keep any from shifting loose off the pile of cargo.

Some woodblock prints depict canal boats loaded high and covered with a tarp or mat with planking riding on top so the boatmen could climb more easily over the mountain of cargo.

The final model was mounted with double-stick tape onto a very simple cherry wood display base I cut for it that I gave a simple satin lacquer finish. The model raised up on a cherry wood block, allowing the rudder to properly hang down.

The 60尺 (60-shaku or about 60 foot) Tonegawa Takasebune model is only 10″ long at this scale. So, it’s a pretty small model, but perfect for scale comparison with Woody Joe’s Kitamaebune and Higaki Kaisen models, which are both also in 1/72 scale.

In the photo above, you can see the model sitting up on the shelf with the still incomplete Kitamaebune model on the left, for size comparison. The model on the right is a Woody Joe kit of the Horyu-ji 5-story pagoda, but that’s in a completely different scale of 1:150.

But the Tonegawa Takasebune is now complete. I will be including it at an upcoming display of my Japanese boat models at a Japan Day event next month at the Asian Art Museum in San Francisco. The date for that is October 17th, 2021, but I’ll post more info shortly. Ω

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. Continue reading

The Tonegawa Takasebune (高瀬船) – a Model in 1/72 Scale, Part 4

Last time I left off on the construction of the Tonegawa Takasebune model, I had completed the rudder, or kaji, and had shaped the mast, or hobashira. I’m not positive on the exact appearance of the top of the mast, so I based it upon what I’ve seen on other models, and also on my experience with the masts on the Higakikaisen and Kitamaebune models I’ve built. It actually went through a slight change during construction.

I originally built the mast with a pretty strong crook at the top end. But, I ended up modifying this so it’s a lot straighter. The mast top is notched to allow me to secure a forestay to it to hold the mast in place by looping it around the mast top. There is also a slot at the top for the main sail halliard, with a brass rod simulating a sheave.

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The Tonegawa Takasebune (高瀬船) – a Model in 1/72 Scale, Part 3

The bow cabin, which was called the seiji (say-jee) actually turned out to be one of the easier features of this model to reconstruct. And, honestly, nothing about the Tonegawa Takasebune is difficult to construct, though I did have a little trouble getting the upper part of the bow so that it looked right. But, the cabin is essentially like a wooden tent. Triangular walls front and back, a center beam at the top, and sloping roofs divided into three parts by a pair of beams on either side.

You might notice that I put an interior wall in the bow of the ship, and I added strips to simulate the frame around a sliding door. It’s not a big cabin, maybe close to 9 feet square, so there’s not a lot of living space. Probably enough for a small family to sit or sleep together. But, bedding, utensils and dishes would certainly have to be put away when not in use. Most of it, probably in the storage in the bow. Continue reading

The Tonegawa Takasebune (高瀬船) – a Model in 1/72 Scale, Part 2

The 60-shaku Tonegawa Takasebune is a 1/72-scale scratch build, based on a drawing in the book of the same name. This, as I mentioned before, is the same scale as the Woody Joe Kitamaebune I’m building and my completed Woody Joe Higakikaisen kit. As mentioned last time, the model is based on a 2-view drawing of a 60-shaku (about 60 foot) I found in the book “利根川高瀬船” or Tonegawa Takasebune.

I began by scaling the actual drawing to 1/72-scale using cutting it up to create a pattern for an internal former. The use of a former is my standard method for building these essentially frameless wooden boats. The former is made from 1/4” MDF or Medium Density Fiberboard, which I buy by the 1/4-sheet at the hardware store. I start with the backbone, which is the easiest part to fashion, then add some cross section pieces, which will help me attach the hull planks at the proper angle.

Unfortunately, once I started the model, I didn’t really take a break to take photos or do any writing until I’d gotten the hull put together. But, below, you can see a template I made, which is essentially a tracing of the top view from the original drawing. This gives me the shape of the bottom of the boat. I’ve also gone back and re-created some steps so I could take a few photos to illustrate, at least. Continue reading

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

After finishing the Himi tenmasen model, I was at somewhat of a crossroads. Though the Woody Joe kitamaebune kit is close to being completed and waiting for me to make a set of sails for it, I felt that I needed to start some kind of scratch project.

I considered some other boats from Toyama prefecture, now that I have access to drawings of many examples, but there’s always been one type of boat that has intrigued me for quite some time. The boat is a large cargo transport that operated on the larger rivers in and out of old Edo. There were various kinds of transports on the rivers around Edo, but these stood out to me.

These boats were called takasebune (tah-kah-say-boo-nay), and the term can be a little confusing, as the same term would refer to any boats on the Takase river. But, the term was more commonly applied to various types of cargo boats used on rivers through Japan. My interest here is specifically for those that plied the waters of the Tone (toh-nay) river system.

Illustration of a large Takasebune from the Funakagami

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