Work is coming along on this model of the Edo period whaleboat-style craft Senzanmaru. Unfortunately, at this stage, a lot of work can be done with little apparent change in the model.
In the photos below, you can see how I taped a string at the bow and stern to service as a center reference line, so I can check to make sure everything is straight and even. I don’t know why I picked a tan line instead of a black one. I think the spool of tan line just happened to be handier.
As I mentioned, progress is being made, but it’s basically all in the details now. You may have already noticed the ōtoko, the heavy beam at the stern. This serves as the rudder mount and hinge, and has a rogui (hinge pin and resting pad) on the left or port side for mounting a sculling oar. This boat was set up for up to five sculling oars, with the rogui mounted on the ends of two beam that I have yet to add.
A couple weeks ago, in a spurt of initiative, I finally began work on a 1/20-scale model fo the Edo period boat Senzanmaru.
Senzanmaru is a whaleboat-style craft that was used by the Hachisuka clan of the former Awa province, now called Tokushima province. The boat measured just under 34 feet long and was propelled by up to 5 sculling oars. In addition, the boat has a mast step, though many boats have such a feature that goes unused.
I don’t know all the details of the boat and how it was used, but it is highly ornamented with elaborate designs painted on her hull and a relieve carving of a dragon on either side of her stem. While boats similar in size and type were used in large numbers to tow large gozabune, highly ornamental military-style vessels that served as yachts and transports for high-ranking samurai, the highly ornamented design of Senzanmaru suggests that this boat was also used to carry high ranking members of the clan. Perhaps it was more for transferring these individuals between ships or from ship to shore, or for carrying important dispatches, etc.
When I visited Japan in September, I found that I’d really hit the jackpot at the Toba Seafolk Museum. Not only are there numerous small boats on display, plus dioramas and a dozen or so models, but the gift shop is well stocked with books. I visited early in my trip, so I didn’t get as many books as I wanted to. Sadly, I didn’t see any of the books I was interested in at any other location I visited during the trip. One book I did pickup detailed a boat called the Senzan-maru, 千山丸.
The Senzan-maru is the name given to a boat that was in the service of the Hachisuka clan. The boat was used to deliver messages and to help tow river barges, like the large decorative warship that served as the feudal lord’s yacht. The boat is a type called an Isanabune, a fast, seaworthy boat designed for whale hunting. Many whaleboats and fishing boats were decorated with painted designs on their hulls, but probably not to the same extent as Senzan-maru.
The highly ornamental hull painting on the Senzanmaru