I have had the good fortune of having been in many email exchanges with French author Jean-Pierre Mélis and our mutual friends in Japan for about the last year or so. Mr. Mélis has been writing a three part series of articles in Neptunia, the Journal of the Friends of the French National Maritime Museum.
The series explores different types of Japanese watercraft as depicted in Japanese woodblock prints. The journal is in French, but with modern translation tools, it’s not too difficult to read in English. This is how I was able to read the first issue, and it was a very interesting read. Plus, it was the first time I’d seen many of the prints.
It may seem odd that the subject of Japanese boats appears in a French journal, but it was Admiral Paris’s book Le Souvenirs de Marine, first published in 1888, with the most recent reprint that I know of being in 1962, that gives westerners the earliest detailed look at Japanese watercraft. A model based on this work also appears in the French National Maritime Museum, and is featured on the cover of the first issue above.
Mr. Mélis informed me the other day of the publication of his final article, which looks at the boats used to navigate the rivers and canals of Japan during the final years of the Shogun period.
If you are interested in reading the articles, you can purchase copies from the publisher’s website: http://www.aamm.fr/neptunia/derniers_numeros
The articles should be interesting and informative, and I am looking forward to seeing the artwork as well.