Hozugawa Kudari Bune in 1/40 scale

If you’ve been following my blog, you might have read this one about the Hozugawa downriver boats: Wasen Models in Miniature – A Hozugawa Downriver Boat

I’ve since added a few details to the model, modernizing it slightly, with the addition of iron reinforcement brackets and a full complement of poles and oars.

I also added the loops to the hull which hold the paddles and steering oars in place when running down the river.

I wasn’t able to get official measurements on these, so I had to rely on photos and estimate the sizes. These are the sizes I came up with:

Sao (pole) – 18 shaku

Paddle (2) – 9 shaku, 7 sun wide blade

Steering Oar – 20 shaku, 7 sun wide blade

Pushing Pole – 9 shaku

Recently, I got myself a miniature shaku square about 3 sun long, so I didn’t actually need to convert to metric, like I sometimes do. Scaling down to 1/40, these come out as:

Sao – 4.5 sun

Paddle – 2.25 sun, 1.75 bu wide blade

Steering Oar – 5 sun, 1.75 bu wide blade

Pushing Pole – 2.25 sun

Since the poles are very thin, less than 1mm diameter at scale, I had to resort to using brass rod, which I sprayed with Tamiya Surface Primer, then finished off with a mix of acrylic paints.

At one time, before the arrival of motor vehicles, the boats ran down river and were manually hauled back up the river by the boatmen, who wore harnesses attached to long ropes. I’ve considered adding rope coils, but my model, with it’s iron fittings and fittings for seating clearly suggests it’s from a later period. So, it probably wouldn’t make sense to add them.

Earlier boats had removable beams to make storage easier. These had a more unfinished, rounded look, and did not have iron fastenings. Douglas Brooks suggested to me that the iron fastenings were likely added to the beams so that they could be used to more easily lift the boats onto trucks for their return journeys.

Historical photo I found on the Internet. I do not know what date this was taken.

A successful attempt in 2009 to recreate the task of hauling a kudaribune back upstream, a task known as hikibune. More details at http://hozugawa.cocolog-nifty.com/blog/2009/11/post-9f96.html

So, short of adding a platform to the inside bottom of the boat, which would be removable anyway, the model is done. The path is now clear to move on to finish another project in the wasen mokei boat shop!

Wasen Models in Miniature – A Hozugawa Downriver Boat

After completing the Hozu river diorama and showing photos to people, I got back some very good comments that led me to think about making a gift shop sized model of a large Hozugawa kudari boat, or downriver boat. These boats are fiberglass now, but they are based on a wooden boat that the river tour company commissioned many years back by the last boat builder of the region.

My Hozu river diorama

Douglas Brooks was kind enough to share a drawing of the boat that he obtained in Japan. I worked out the measurements, and the boat comes out to about 33 feet in length. Figuring a nice sized desktop model should be no more than about 10 or 11 inches long, that would put it at about 1/40 scale. That’s actually not that miniature, but for a boat of this type, it’s certainly miniature enough. Plus, it’s large enough scale to allow me to show some planking detail and maybe forgo the fastenings detail.

A modern fiberglass (FRP) version of the Hozugawa kudari boat.

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