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.
While I received a digital copy of the Japanese whaleboat replica plans from the Taiji Museum curator, Mr. Sakurai, I never got the museum catalog he had offered to send. I didn’t worry about it, because I did have the plans, and I wasn’t charged anything, so I didn’t want to bother Mr. Sakurai about it.
Then, just yesterday, I received an email from Mr. Sakurai about it. He apologized and said he would be sending it out to me right away. Apparently, he was reminded of this, as my shipmodeling friend, Sekiguchi-san, just made a trip all the way to Taiji to visit the museum. He spoke with Mr. Sakurai briefly and asked him some questions that I think we both had about the whaleboat’s design.
He apparently also studied the full-size whaleboat replica on display there. I’m hoping he took some photos as well. Anyway, I’m looking forward to getting the museum catalog, which I believe is what we would more commonly refer to as an exhibition guide. I’ll report more when it arrives. Ω
Yesterday, I received an email from Mr. Hayato Sakurai, who is the curator of the whaling museum in Taiji, Japan. Interestingly, Mr. Sakurai also lists himself as Advisory Curator for the New Bedford Whaling Museum, which I didn’t know, though it only makes sense.
Scene from a 150 year old screen painting of whaling along the Kumano Coast, Kishu region
I recently had some very good new regarding my research of Japanese whaleboats, or Kujirabune. After finding the Taiji museum website and seeing a post of some whaleboats from Muroto, which is in Kōchi prefecture on the south eastern corner of Shikoku, I had mentioned these things to my ship modeling friend in Japan, Mr. Masami Sekiguchi, and also to Douglas Brooks. As it turned out, Douglas Brooks knew the curator of the Taiji museum and put me in touch with him.
Shortly after, my friend Sekiguchi-san had called the museum and spoke with the curator, Mr. Hayato Sakurai. It was nice to hear from Sekiguchi-san that the website I told him about, http://taiji.town, and the many colorful illustrations of whaleboats was something he wasn’t aware of, and he really appreciated my finding them. I think he enjoyed his conversation with the curator, and as it turned out, the Taiji museum building was designed by a friend of his, who has since passed away. So, I was happy to be able help him make some connections too.
Modern fiberglass-hulled kujirabune replicas racing.