I’m a bit behind the curve on reporting on this latest mini-kit from Woody Joe. This kit, released in May, joins the two other traditional Japanese boat mini-kits, the Hobikisen and the Utasebune. The Yakatabune (yah-kah-tah-boo-ney) is an Edo period pleasure boat that become a common site on lakes and rivers in the later years of pre-modern Japan. The appearance of these boats coincided with the rise of the merchant class and the accompanying increase in leisure time and disposable income among commoners. The Yakatabune and boatmen would be hired for a day or an evening for taking in the sights at cherry blossom time to view evening fireworks, or maybe just to drink tea or sake and enjoy good company.
Woody Joe already produces a large, 1/24-scale kit of a Yakatabune, but this one is small and quick to build and costs less that one-third as much as the larger kit. The kit features a large number of laser-cut parts. The design of the hull is nearly identical to the other mini-kits of the series, but the decking, rudder, and deckhouse means there is about 50% more wood in this kit. As with the others, the wood provided is Hinoki (hee-noh-key), a variety of Japanese cypress that is extremely aromatic, and it easy to work with.
Having been building the larger scale Yakatabune kit, it’s clear that this is a simplified model. But, that’s the whole point here. This is a model that can easily be built over a weekend, and results in something that looks nice on the shelf.
The kit is solidly packed into its box, which measures about 9″ x 3-1/2″ x 1-1/4″. The model itself measures about 8-1/4″ long when complete and includes a nice base and brass tape nameplate.
At 5,500 yen, the Mini Yakatabune is the most expensive of the three traditional boat mini-kits. At today’s exchange rate, that works out to about $45. As always, I recommend buying the kit from Zootoyz.jp. Prices are good, shipping is extremely fast, and service is great.
For those who want to add a little detail, if you’ve built the larger kit, the details you might add are pretty obvious. There are the beams that protrude from the hull under the side railing, there are the rope wrappings around the sculling oars, the lifting rope on the rudder, and copper caps. But, I think it’s a better kit to be built as-is. A nice simple weekend project that would make a nice gift either as a kit or a completed model.
Personally, I’m a student of the Japanese folk instrument called a shamisen and my teacher would clearly love to have this model on her shelf. She’s been hinting to me, showing her collection of all the different things that her various students have made for her over the years. I think the Mini Yakatabune is going to have to be one of them. Ω