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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Japanese Boats in Wooden Boat Magazine

I just found out from Douglas Brooks that he wrote an article that was published in the current May/June issue of Wooden Boat magazine. In addition, there’s an accompanying article about Douglas Brooks and his apprenticeships with traditional Japanese boatbuilders in Japan.

If you’re not familiar with Douglas Brooks’ work and the status of Japanese traditional boatbuilding, you really need to read the WoodenBoat articles. It’s a good reminder of all the generations of knowledge that are about to be lost.

It reminded me that I want to do more to make people aware of the situation. During the Covid crisis, it’s been hard to do much. However, things are starting to open up, so maybe I can plan out a display or two for later in the year.

One thing I can do is mention the issue in a Zoom based talk I’ll be giving next month on modeling traditional Japanese boats, through the San Francsico Martime Research Center.   I’ll be posting more information shortly about this talk, part of the Center’s lunchtime MESS lecture series (Marine Education for Students of the Sea). More on that here: https://maritime.org/mess/

To purchase a copy of this month’s Wooden Boat magazine, you can get a single issue here for $7.95 plus S&H: https://www.woodenboatstore.com/collections/woodenboat-magazine/products/issue-280-may-june-2021?variant=39616365625512. Ω

 

Act Fast! Douglas Brooks Online Workshop – Saturday, February 20

Sorry for the short notice, but there is an online workshop this Saturday, Feruary 20th, from 11am to 1pm PST. That’s 2pm to 4pm Eastern. The Zoom-based workshop is being hosted by Kezurou-Kai USA and there is a fee of $50 for non-members and $30 for members. Douglas will be discussing the building of Japanese boats under the traditional Japanese apprentice learning system.

For those who haven’t had a chance to attend one of his talks, this is a great opportunity. I have been fortunate to have attended his talks both in-person and online, and I’m always learning new things. But, the story of his apprenticeships is fascinating and entertaining and I’m sure you will feel that way too.

Whether or not he plugs his book, Japanese Wooden Boatbuilding, I strongly recommend it for anyone who is interested in building a real Japanese wooden boat, a model of one, or just looking for a fascinating read.

If you can, make sure to buy it direct from his website, as more of the proceeds to directly to him and help fund the next Japanese boatbuilding project. Also, it’s the only way to get a signed copy.

In any case, you should take the opportunity to attend his talk this Saturday. The workshop is limited to 20 attendees, and I understand it is just about half full as of this posting. Read about the details and sign up on the Kezuro-kai website here: https://www.kezuroukai.us/classes/japanese-boat-building-feb-20

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Zoom Session with Douglas Brooks: Building a Boat the Japanese Way, January 20th

The North West Maritime Center in Port Townsend, WA, will be featuring an interview with boat builder Douglas Brooks in a Zoom-based session on Wednesday, January 20th, at 6pm PST. The interview will be followed by a Q&A session, with the whole session running 90 minutes.


Jan 20, 6-7:30 PM (PST): Douglas Brooks: Building a Boat the Japanese Way

A look into the inside world of Japanese boatbuilding and the apprentice system: learning silently, no written plans, secrets, and the differences between Eastern and Western techniques.


 

Boats built by the Winter-term 2018 class taught at Middlebury College by Douglas Brook on Building the Japanese Boat.

The interview is part of their Wooden Boat Festival’s ‘Ask and Expert’ Winter Series, which presents a total of eight sessions with various boatbuilding experts. These sessions take place between January 6th and April 7th. The cost to join any one session is only $5.99, or $30 for the entire series.

Tickets can be purchased here: https://www.eventbrite.com/e/ask-an-expert-series-tickets-131265746381

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Sailing into the Past – A Book of Replica Ships

Douglas Brooks’s article on bezaisen, also known as sengokubune, was one of my first references on these big Edo period coastal transports.

It’s a very good article and has some nice photos in it. The cover photo was provided by Professor Kon, who heads the Wasen Research Society at Kanagawa University.

Ship Modeler

For those of you who might be interested, I just noticed that US Naval Institute has a nice sale price on the book Sailing into the Past. This book includes an article on bezaisen by Douglas Brooks, and features a photo of the replica bezaisen (also known as a sengokubune, or more specifically a kitamaebune) Michinoku-Maru.

The book is a compilation of articles about various replica ships around the world today, and it probably a very good general read. Of course, given my work with Douglas Brooks, I would love for everyone who might be interested to buy a copy.

I don’t know what the regular price is for this 200+ page hardcover book, but it’s only $11.49 at USNI.org. To me, Douglas Brooks’ article is worth the price of the book. Check it out here: https://www.usni.org/press/books/sailing-past

I think it was originally $45.95. So this is a very good…

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Cormorant Fishing Boats Book by Douglas Brooks (Japanese) – Free Download

A couple days ago, a new publication by the Tokyo National Research Institute for Cultural Properties was posted on their Tobuken website.

船大工那須誠一と長良川の鵜舟をつくる

Building the Naragara River Ubune with Boatbuilder Nasu Seiichi

The publication is compilation of the work by boatbuilder Douglas Brooks in Gifu, Japan, in 2017, working with 85-year old boat builder Mr. Seiichi Nasu, on the construction of a cormorant fishing boat. The boats are called Ukaibune or Ubune, the latter being a the local term and simply meaning cormorant boat.

Photo courtesy of Douglas Brooks.

The book is in Japanese, but contains Mr. Brooks’s writings about the project, as well as a section by Mr. Masashi Kutsuwa on riverboat culture. For those interested in the tools used in the boatbuilding process, there is a huge section in the back with photos and scale line drawings of each of the tools used.

Photo courtesy of Douglas Brooks.

Only 500 copies of the book are being printed and provided to libraries and research institutions, and none are available for sale to the general public. However, a pdf version is available for download, free of charge, and was recently posted on the Tobunken website:

https://www.tobunken.go.jp/…/wp-con…/uploads/ubune2020-1.pdf

Also, Douglas Brooks has also completed a manuscript for his own english language book, which will be printed and available for purchase. This will be available, hopefully, in early 2021. Ω

Building a Himi Tenma in 1/10 Scale – Part 6 – Final

One of the features of this model is something that appears on many Japanese wooden boats, and dealing with it has been on my mind since this project began. I’m talking about the mooring bits, called the kanzashi. On this boat, they are tapered square posts with a faceted knob at the end.

On the real boat, these were made of honiki, but for a 1/10 scale model, I decided to use a harder wood that I have on hand, some Castello boxwood, which I use in ship modeling all the time, as there is no grain, has a nice tan color, and carves beautifully.

As it turned out, these were pretty easy to make. So much so that I made a pair and decided they were too short and quickly made another pair.

These were large enough that, rather than trying to carve a post to fix them into the mooring beam, I drilled them out and inserted very small birch dowels. These then fit easily and securely into holes drilled into the mooring beam.

The final stage was to lash the mooring beam down to the bow beam directly underneath it. This I did using some excess rigging line from a completed Woody Joe kit. I took about 6 turns around the beams and then wrapped around the waist of the lashing and tied off. I then secured the knot with a little glue and trimmed off the excess line. This holds the mooring beam very securely.

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Building a Himi Tenma in 1/10 Scale – Part 5

Since we’re still under the stay-at-home order and I have time, I’m plowing ahead with the Himi Tenma. I did manage to get some measurements from Douglas Brooks, but mostly, to verify that my beams are fairly close. Not all exactly like the boat built last Fall, but close enough for this project.

With the beams, or funabari, in place, I went ahead and added the decks at the bow and stern. I don’t recall off hand what the term is for the stern deck, but the bow deck is called the kappa. I fit both decks by first making a templates that I cut to fit as best I could in place of the planks.

I cut three planks to make up each of the decks. For the stern deck, I installed a simple strip of wood onto the transom, or todate, to serve as a shelf for the lower plank ends. That wasn’t necessary at the bow, due to the shape of that deck, which held the planks in place better.

The aft deck turned out well, but I realized later that the bow deck angles downward too much, and is probably smaller on the actual boat. But, it looks fine and I don’t really think there’s any need to redo it.

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Building a Himi Tenma in 1/10 Scale – Part 4

I started working on planking the hull of the Himi Tenma shortly after my last post. The first thing to do was to cut a cardboard template to the approximate shape of the hull plank.

This was done by taping a piece of cardboard into place on the model. The bottom edge was traced with a pencil onto the cardboard. The shape at the bow was approximated, and the stern end was cut off a little bit long. The top edge was derived by marking the top edge at the ends of the model. I then used a thin wood batten to create a fair curve and traced that shape onto the cardboard template. The template really does not need to be very accurate. It just has to be big enough to work, and a bit oversized is best.

The template can now be used to help select the wood. I try to be efficient as possible and  find a way to get two planks out of the smallest sheet of wood that will work, since the wood I’m using is hard to come by.

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Building a Himi Tenma in 1/10 Scale – Part 3

I’m making decent progress on the Himi Tenmasen model and am now working on the kanjiki planks. These are the bottom planks located either side of the heavy, central bottom plank, called the chyou. As I mentioned before, my model will have two kanjiki planks on each side, much like in the tenma drawings, though the boat built last fall actually only used one plank per side. But, this way allows me more efficient use of my wood supply, and if I screw up a plank, I lose less wood. And, while it means more mortises to cut, it also means there is more detail on the model.

Measurements of mortises given are at full size.

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