In early 2016, Douglas Brooks was in Himi, Japan, to build a small Tabune, or rice field boat, known locally as a Zutta Tenma. He is back in Japan now, on his way back to Himi, this time to build a general purpose boat that I’m told is simply called a Tenmasen.
As part of a fund raising plan, I’d agreed to build a couple models for fund raising purposes for him for a nominal fee. This will happen some time in the next 6 months, probably, as I wait for more details on the boat’s construction.
In the meantime, Douglas was also in Niigata prefecture, where he worked on a very simple river boat which has been called a Nouninawase or Itaawase, or as I just learned today, a Honryousen.
Douglas Brooks caulking a seam on a Honryousen
I’m not sure if it’s going to happen, but Douglas was interested in getting a model of the Honryousen he just built, so I’m waiting on some dimensions on that too.
But, while I’m waiting for information on those, I decided that I really haven’t done all that much in the way of a model of a boat that he’s built, and I’m about to build two. So, I figured I’d better get a head start and get in some practice by building a Zutta Tenma model.
Zutta Tenma were boats used in and around the rice fields of the region. This one is a smaller type and has a very simple design. My understanding is that these were not built by boat builders, per se, but by builders who specifically built these tabune, or rice field boats.
Zutta Tenma in a museum in Himi, Japan
The boat is only about 12 feet long, so I’m going with a 1/10-scale model. At this scale, the model will be about 14 inches long. This also allows me to put in the mortise detail, which is hard for me to do at smaller scales. It also keeps the model from seeming too simple. Unfortunately, most of the interesting detail is on the underside of the boat, so you won’t be able to see it unless the model is displayed upside down.
For the most part, I think the boats look best on a simple wooden base. But, a mirrored base, would allow a viewer to see the bottom of the boat as it sits upright. I’ll have to think about this.
You can read more about Douglas Brooks’s 2016 Zutta Tenma project on his blog here: http://blog.douglasbrooksboatbuilding.com/2016/02/the-rice-field-boat.html