Tag Archives: japan research trip

Japanese Boats Display in Japantown (v 4.0)

Last week, I spent an entire afternoon in San Francisco setting up my latest display of models of Japanese traditional boats in the Japan Center Mall in San Francisco. This is the largest display I’ve done, which is now up to 5 models. It’s probably about as large as it will get as I can’t imagine that I can possibly cram any more into my car. And, given that I live about an hour’s drive outside the city (or two hours in bad traffic), I’m not likely going to be making two trips to set it up. But, the size is actually pretty good now.

Since I’m doing some fundraising to go to Japan this Fall to do some more first-hand research on Japanese watercraft (don’t forget to check out my gofundme page), I’m taking the opportunity to really get some attention for this display. As with those people involved in the fine arts, I’ve made up an announcement card that I’m having printed up that I will be sending to various friends and people that  I think will be interested in it and possibly interested in helping me out (as well as those who have already done so). In addition, I’ve made a simple email announcement photo that I’ve been sending to people.

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My email announcement card

If you’re already familiar with the last couple displays, you will see two new models added, a simple Japanese traditional boat shop display and the Tosa wasen model. Both are a nice, big 1/10 scale, so the details are better for a window display like this.


The 1/10-scale Tosa Wasen is the newest boat model added to the display.


This is my simple model of an Urayasu boat workshop, showing some of the aspects of traditional Japanese boatbuilding. Under construction is a Bekabune, a seaweed gathering boat that was once used on Tokyo Bay. The model still needs a few additions – a work in progress.


The Hacchoro and the Urayasu boat workshop with their scale boatmen silhouettes. The Hacchoro is one of the boats I will be focussing my attention on while researching in Japan this Fall.

You may notice in that display window photos that I’ve created little silhouette boatmen to provide scale reference for each model. This was a last minute effort, though I’ve been thinking about it for months. I finally sat down and scoured the Internet and found photos of boatmen dressed in traditional outfits on someone’s blog photos. I took the best one and did some Photoshop work to turn him into a silhouette, which I scaled to the needed sizes, printed them, and mounted them on cardboard.

There are, of course, things to do differently next time, which I’ve already noted. The boat workshop display should probably be on some kind of a riser, like the other models, there is enough room to put up another large, hanging photo board, and there’s room for at least one more model, using the tall stand I introduced in this display. I suppose I could consider staggering them a little too.

That tall stand, by the way, is actually a better stand for me to use because it’s simple two boards hinged together. This makes them foldable and they take up a lot less space in my car. I’m seriously thinking about replacing the box pedestals on the other models with short folding stands, which would allow me to carry more stuff in my car. And, actually, if I build models without sails, I might be able to fit one or two more in that car. Of course, that means building more models and I’m pretty far behind on other projects as it is. We’ll see… Ω



Funding a Japanese Traditional Boats Research Trip 2016

Help Fund My Japan Research Trip

Well, it’s official. I’m making a trip to Japan in early September to do some hands-on research. I’ve been running into something of a dead-end on what I can learn here in the U.S., and one evening I was poking around on Travelocity.com at airfares to Japan and found a deal that was too good to pass up.


Boats at the Toba Seafolk Museum

Of course, I can’t forget the fact that I can’t really afford to go, but I had to jump on it to secure the deal. So, for the first time ever, I’m going into fundraising mode – I’m selling off a few things I really don’t need, going into frugal spending mode at home, making a deal on one of my models, and so on.


A Hobikisen on Lake Kasumigaura

In addition, I’ve opened up a gofundme campaign, which is an online fundraising site. So, if you’d like to help out and have the means to do so, then please consider a donation of $5 or more. The details of the fundraising campaign including a breakdown of trip expenses is listed on the gofundme site. I feel a bit awkward putting out a fundraising request to allow me to do something I really want to do. But, without doing some fundraising it’s going to be tough to make it all happen. The more fully funded the trip, the more of my target locations I can get to and spend time at.

It’s going to be a short trip, I’ll arrive at Haneda Airport around 5:00 AM on September 5th and leave for home at 1:30 AM on September 13. That gives me 8 days in Japan to get where I need to go. I’m still working on an itinerary, but the two most important locations are the Toba Seafolk Museum and the Ogi Folk Museum on Sado Island. There are a number of smaller stops including working out a stop in Yaizu if I can arrange to meet with one or more of the people involved with the Hacchoro traditional wooden boats. Also, as a ship modeler, there is of course a planned stop to visit the folks at Woody Joe and learn about their operation.

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A Tosa Wasen

There are numerous historical resources in the greater Tokyo area including the Edo Tokyo Museum, a small boat museum in Urayasu, and the Fukugara Edo Museum.

A big destination would be the Michinoku Boat Museum up in Aomori, but that has apparently closed and the replica Kitamaesen called the Michinoku Maru is moored and not open to the public. But I’m told the Toba museum and the Ogi museums are both very nice and have good collections and I should be able to collect a lot of information from those two destinations alone.

In any case, I will be posting updates while in Japan to keep readers here up to date on the work I’ll be doing there. In addition, I expect to be taking tremendous quantities of photos and collecting as much information as I can for ship modeling purposes. I also hope to meet up with a few people in Japan that I’ve been corresponding with regarding ship modeling and Japanese traditional boats.

Unfortunately, I don’t think I’ll be able to make it all the over to the Tosa area on Shikoku Island where I’ve made a couple really great contacts regarding the small traditional wooden boats that are still being built and used regularly. There’s just not enough time, unless by some miracle, I get enough funding to extend my stay there. But, that’s very doubtful.


A Hacchoro under sail

It will be a very short and very busy trip, but I expect the information I collect to give me enough material to help me with a couple magazine articles I’ve been considering and maybe others I hadn’t thought about before. Also, I will share information here and elsewhere. Perhaps it will provide enough material do do a nice talk or write a book?

The link to my gofundme campaign is: https://www.gofundme.com/japanboatresearch

Thank you for any support you can provide, even if it’s just moral support! And, please be sure to pass this request along to anyone you think may be interested in supporting this work. Ω