In past posts, I’m sure I’ve mentioned this illustrated small format booklet, printed in Japanese, on these Japanese coastal transports.
The ships, generically known by sailors as bezaisen, had specific terms based on their function. The Higakikaisen (菱垣廻船 were cargo transports belonging to a trade guild, and provided regular transport of cargo from Osaka to Edo in the 17th and 18th centuries. Tarukaisen (樽廻船) were barrel carrying transports that carried sake and soy sauce around the same time.
The book explains about these ships, their history, and design. I bought a copy last time I was in Japan, I think I was in the Toba Seafolk Museum gift shop where I found this and several other books I had to have. The price isn’t on the cover, but as I recall, it’s very inexpensive. Unfortunately, it’s very difficult to get unless you actually travel to Japan. And, even then, you have to know where to find it.
Recently, I received some information that the book is actually available as a free download from the Maritime Science Museum’s website. I checked it out and, sure enough, you can get this booklet for free in pdf form.
Here’s the link to the download: http://fields.canpan.info/report/download?id=3233
Again, the booklet is in Japanese. But, if you don’t read the language, you can print it out for yourself, look over the photos and diagrams, and use Google Translate to help you with small sections of the text – it’s hard to select large sections of text when it’s published in column format.
[EDIT]: The download is from the Nippon Foundation website. So, before you think I might be providing a link to an illegal copy, here’s the link to the Foundation’s download page for this book: http://fields.canpan.info/report/detail/4963. Just so everyone knows!