Douglas Brooks: An American Boat Builder Building Japanese Boats

For those of you who are interested in traditional Japanese boats, and I’m not talking about models, but full-sized “wasen”, I recommend you look into the work of Douglas Brooks. Mr. Brooks is an American boat builder who went to Japan to study with Japanese craftsmen, apprenticing with several of them to learn the traditional art of Japanese boat building. He has written many articles and is coming out with a new book that should be due out later this year covering all five of his apprenticeships.

I’ve had the opportunity to communicate with Mr. Brooks recently and come to find out that he used to work at Hyde Street Pier in San Francisco, where I volunteer along with my fellow colleagues of the Hyde Street Pier Model Shipwrights. I’ve also found that we’ve met some of the same folks from Sado Island, where he did at least one of his apprenticeships. And, in communicating with a fellow ship modeler just today, his name came up again. So, it seemed an appropriate time to mention him here.

Douglas Brooks has a great website. Please check it out: Douglas Brooks Boatbuilder – Welcome!

He also has published a book The Tub Boats of Sado Island; A Japanese Craftsman’s Methods. As far as I can tell, this book is only available now directly from him. Ω

2 thoughts on “Douglas Brooks: An American Boat Builder Building Japanese Boats

  1. Douglas Brooks

    Dear Clare,

    Thanks for posting about me and my work, but just a correction: I have had five apprenticeships in Japan, not seven. I have built six types of boats with my teachers and last summer built a seventh type in an arts festival where I was the lead boatbuilder. I will be headed back to Japan this spring to build another boat at a small museum outside of Kyoto.


    1. catopower Post author

      Thank you Douglas!

      I’ve made the correction. I’m looking forward to learning more about your work and hope I can see some of it in person some day.



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