A recent addition to the Woody Joe line of wooden ship model kits is the Japanese Edo period boat called Higaki-Kaisen (hee-gah-key kah-ee-sen). This was a cargo transport operated by the Higaki guild of Osaka. The boats of this guild were given the charter to ferry goods between Osaka and Edo (Called Toyko today). I don’t know when this particular boat showed up, but similar vessels were around throughout the Edo period, roughly 1600-1868.
At 1/72 scale, the Higaki-Kaisen model measures a bit over 16″ long and 16″ high. This one is particularly interesting as it includes interior detail. I haven’t seen the kit personally, but I’m told that the kit is of typical Woody Joe quality with lots of precision laser cut parts and well illustrated instructions. Fellow ship modeler Richard Rubinger, a professor of Japanese history, is currently working on the model and a provided a couple in-progress photos posted here with his permission.
While he reads Japanese, Richard comments that kit is so well illustrated and clear that you don’t actually need to read Japanese to be able to build this model. This has been my experience with Woody Joe’s Kanrin Maru kit too. But, I would recommend some ship model experience if you don’t read Japanese as these kits are quite pricey and you probably don’t want to be making your first ship modeling mistakes on them.
Also, unlike with many western companies, Woody Joe sells these kits as final products and does not provide after market support. If you lose or break a piece it’s pretty difficult to get a replacement. If something is actually missing, that may be another matter, but don’t expect anything close to Model Expo’s parts replacement guarantee – Another reason to have some building experience before trying this kit.
One more good thing about choosing this kit over the other Edo period Woody Joe kits is that this was is a fairly large boat but at a smaller scale than the other Edo period ship model kits put out by Woody Joe, so it’s much lighter. That means that shipping is notably cheaper.
Woody Joe does not market internationally, so you’ll have to go through an online hobby dealer. As always, I recommend Zootoyz in Japan. They provide good prices and fast service. To get right to the page with the Higaki-Kaisen kit, click here. Being the newest, the kit is the last one listed.
Here’s the product page from the Woody Joe website…
And here is a photo of the full sized replica at sail…
If you’re interested in learning more about this type of vessel, Kyushu University has a an english language page here. Ω