Category Archives: Mini-Yakatabune Build

Woody Joe’s Mini-Yakatabune kit, is one of three mini-kits released in the past year of traditional Japanese Edo period boats. It’s a quick-build project that’s fun to work on and results in a very nice model of a culturally significant Japanese watercraft.

Mini-Yakatabune kit by Woody Joe – The Finished Model

A little while back, I wrote a post about working on some projects while out of town (What Does a Ship Modeling Fool Do When Out of Town). One of those projects was the Mini-Yakatabune kit from Woody Joe of Japan. Well, I added some finishing touches and finished up the model recently. These were mostly little modifications to the kit, which I though added a little realism.

Keeping in mind the Mini-Yakatabune kit is designed to be easy to build, there are some small details that were left off in the design. Mostly, these are rigging lines that aren’t really necessary, but certainly add realism to the final model. In addition, to make construction easier, in place of very thin and fragile dowels, the kit provides brass rod.

Being used to working with very tiny, fragile parts, I replaced the brass rod with thin wooden dowels that I reduced down to size using a jeweler’s drawplate.

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Drawplate from Byrnes Model Machines.

Close up showing the dowels in place of brass rod.

Close up showing the dowels in place of brass rod. Small rope coil at bow.

I ended up with a long piece of dowel left over and so I just trimmed it to a reasonable length and used it to represent a bamboo pole used to help push the boat along shallow water and at the shore.

The rigging was a little trickier since it’s such a small model, but mostly, the issue is the delicate nature of the model. First off, I coiled up a tiny piece of line and laid it down at the bow. It’s pretty small, so it doesn’t look like much more than a blob. From building the larger Yakatabune model, I was aware of a line used for raising the rudder. As was pointed out to me by another ship modeler who built his kit before I built mine, there is a hole in the rudder, but the instructions show no reason for it. The line then tied at this hole and the ends of the line reach up and tie around the support beam above it.

 

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Again from the larger Woody Joe kits I was aware that in early days, the two pieces of the oar, called a “Ro” in Japanese, had a piece of rope wrapped around the joint. That was a pretty easy addition. The tougher addition was a loop of line tied down to the deck, that went over the handle of the oar. This required me to fashion a loop in the end of a line inserted into a small hole that I drilled into the deck. The loop then slips over the handle that sticks up out of the oar. To reinforce the placing of the oar, I inserted a small piece of brass wire into the oar, which fits down into a small hole I drilled into the oar’s support beam.

Finally, I figured this tiny model is going to get knocked over on someone’s shelf, so I first glues some thin brass rods into the base and drill corresponding holes in the bottom of the model. This keeps the model removable from the base, but it sits securely on the base. I then decided to cut a thin sheet of cherry wood to mount the whole thing on.

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Somehow, I managed to lose the silhouette figure that’s supposed to stand at the oar handle, but the model looks pretty complete as is and I think it will be a very appreciated gift.

As I mentioned before, the basic model kit was essentially completed in a single day. Added details took me a little longer to complete. Overall, this was a really fun kit to build and I found the results to be really nice. I even went so far as to buy two more kits to make into gifts.

Those interested in building the kit, remember that the instructions are in Japanese only. The instructions are very well illustrated and the kit goes together very easily, so the language shouldn’t be an issue. Just remember that any wood that you need to bend needs to be dampened first. Also, there are a lot of very delicate laser-cut parts. Cut away through the tabs that hold the pieces in the sheets, but make sure to remove the knife blade from the sheet before trying to remove the wood from the sheet. Don’t skip steps. And, since these kits are only available from Japan, don’t expect to find/get replacement parts. So, be extra careful not to break or lose anything!

If you’re interested in buying a kit, and if you’ve read this far I really think you should, I recommend ordering from the online hobby dealer Zootoyz.jp. Prices are good, shipping is reasonable, and service is excellent. Ω

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What Does a Ship Modeling Fool Do When Out of Town?

This past weekend, I was away in my old hometown, a place where I didn’t have a whole lot to do one day. Knowing this would probably be the case, I brought a couple easy to transport things to keep me occupied. Some people would just bring a book or watch TV. Me, I’m a ship modeling fool, so I brought a couple new ship model projects along. One was an unstarted paper model kit, a 1/96-scale model of the British frigate HMS Mercury, by Shipyard of Poland. The other was the Mini-Yakatabune kit from Woody Joe of Japan.

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While the HMS Mercury kit is a major project, I figured getting the framework together would give me something to show at an upcoming ship model meeting. Also, last year I had a paper model of the British cutter HMS Alert that I took with me to the Nautical Research Guild Conference. I was working at the Ages of Sail table in the Vendor Room and the partially completed model made for a good display of these kits. The next conference is coming up in another 6 weeks or so, and I’m working the Ages of Sail table again. I thought it might be good to take a different started kit. I considered taking the HMS Alert, with is much farther along, but I’ve put a lot of work into it and don’t want it to get damaged in the trip.

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Bear in mind that this is the 1/96-scale Paper Model kit and not the 1/72-scale Laser Cardboard Series kit. It was fun to get a paper model started, especially since all the frames and sub-deck pieces all pre-cut. So, as far as I got, it was all just cut and slip parts together. I didn’t actually spend a lot of time on it. But then, this was actually project number two, which I didn’t work on until I was done working on project one.

The first project, Woody Joe’s Mini-Yakatabune kit, was something I received a couple months from the Japanese online dealer Zootoyz.jp. I’ve been working on the large Yakatabune kit from Woody Joe, so I was already familiar with the craft. While I’d been working on the larger model, I’ve been writing about it on Model Ship World. Meanwhile, a fellow ship modeler has been working the mini-kit. Since I had the unstarted kit on the shelf and was very impressed by the work that the other ship modeler had done on his model, I took the kit along with me. Woody Joe product listings suggest it’s an 8-hour build, so I put that to the test.

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I came away from the weekend with everything on my list done, and also managed to pretty well finish up the Mini-Yakatabune. I’ll post more info on that kit later. But, I will say for now that I built it in a day – pretty close to the 8-hour suggested build time. I’ve built Woody Joe’s Hobikisen mini-kit and also have an unbuilt Utasebune mini-kit on the shelf too. But, from my experience, the Mini-Yakatabune is a great kit with lots to do and it looks really nice when it’s all done. It’s more expensive that the other mini-kits, but has a lot more laser cut parts than the other mini-kits. I highly recommend building it!

It’s such a neat model and the subject seems culturally significant, so I personally think the completed model will make a great gift. I’m going to give this one to my shamisen teacher and even went so far as to order a couple more of them to build for my former taiko teacher. With a list price of 5500 yen, about $46 at the time of this writing, building this kit as a gift shouldn’t break the bank account.

Well, this ship modeling fool is now back from the weekend. Surprisingly, I didn’t do much ship modeling today. But, the day’s not over yet! Ω

New Yakatabune Mini-Kit from Woody Joe

 

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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.

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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.

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Parts are always well packaged and well labeled in Woody Joe kits.

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Japanese language instructions are extremely easy to follow, thanks to the well illustrated, 12-page, step-by-step guide.

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Laser-cut sheets are clearly numbered, and each part has its own identifier to make locating parts simple.

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Color printed paper is used to cover the shoji screen walls of the deck house and for the lanterns hanging along the side.

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