Tag Archives: Japan ship model

Higaki Kaisen – Naming Your Ship

While I finished my Higaki Kaisen kit some time ago now, it recently occurred to me that some builders may have trouble with the Japanese characters for the nobori or the banner at the stern of the ship. The kit provides a blank piece of cloth for this, so if you don’t know how to write in Japanese, what do you do?

Well, maybe this will help. Below, I’ve put a couple names together in Japanese. If all else fails, copy these into your word processor, enlarge them, arrange the characters so that they are oriented vertically and print them out on regular paper. Make the banner out of that and at least you won’t have a blank banner at the stern!

This is the the name of our kit from Woody Joe. It is not a ship name per-se, but it’s more descriptive: Higaki Kaisen – 菱垣廻船

This is the name of the replica ship upon which this kit was based. Naniwa is another name for Osaka: Naniwa Maru – 浪華丸

Any others? Maybe not so imaginitive, but you could use names of local cities. So, how about the name for old Tokyo, Edo: Edo Maru – 江戸丸

I don’t know how symbolic or imaginative coastal transport names got, but you might also just do a google search for your favorite Japanese symbols like the Pine Tree (Matsu), or the crane-tortoise (tsurukame), thunder god (Kaminari), mirror (kagami). If you can find the characters on a website, you can copy them and print them out for your own use.


Woody Joe’s Hacchoro Kit – Out of the Box Review

My highly anticipated, newly released kit from Woody Joe arrived a while back and I’m just now getting around to writing about it. It took a couple extra days to get the shipment this time because I ordered it pretty much right at the release date, which meant my supplier still had to get the kit from Woody Joe before he could ship it out to me.

As with all my Woody Joe purchases, I bought this one from Zootoyz in Japan. However, rather than order from their regular site, I thought I’d help them out by trying out their new store front on Amazon. Unfortunately, ordering from a new vendor on Amazon is a bit troublesome as you have to find them and it takes a while for the vendor to get up to speed with the intricacies of selling on Amazon.com.

My transaction went smoothly, but I think it’s better just to buy directly from the Zootoyz website. That way, there is no middle-man to take a cut, it’s easier to ship with the vendor you want, and the savings gets passed on to you. I could have ordered directly from Zootoyz and, as it turns out I could have paid as much as $20 less that what I did pay. Still, I was really happy just to be able to order the new kit and receive it quickly.

And, just for the record, I do not get any profits from either Zootoyz or Woody Joe sales!


The Kit

The Hacchoro is an Edo Period work boat and it is the subject of the latest kit release from Woody Joe of Japan. The 1:24-scale kit relies heavily on laser cut parts and the final model measures about 23″ long, 20″ high, and 12-1/2″ wide, considerably bigger than their Higaki Kaisen model. Woody Joe’s estimated completion time of this model is 50 hours, which is half of what they list for the Higaki Kaisen. The kit lists of ¥18,000 or about $180. I got mine for about $208 with Express Mail shipping.

Background of the Hacchoro

Since my last post about this craft, I managed to learn something interesting about its origins. It turns out that fishing boats during this time were limited by law in the number of oars they carry. This apparently was to keep boats from overtaking with the Shogun’s boat.

But, the first Tokugawa Shogun enjoyed falconry and after his retirement, he would travel by sea to the hunting grounds. 24 fishing boats were commissioned as escorts, but since there were limited in the number of oars they were allowed to use, they had a difficult time keeping up. To remedy this situation, the fishermen of this one region were given special permission to mount 8 oars, hence the name Hacchoro, which basically means 8-oared boat.


Inside the Box


Opening up the box, which is somewhat smaller than the previous boxes I’d gotten from Woody Joe, I’ve come to expect the company’s usual quality packaging. Beneath the sheets of plans, instruction book and their one-page catalog sheet, the wooden parts are all packaged in plastic bags, grouped together in sets – I haven’t figured out the rationale for what the sheets are group together as they are, but I think each set is made up of sheets of like thickness. Finally, there is the usual cardboard tray in one end with the spool of rigging line, the banners, a small sheet of etched metal and a laser engraved name board.




The first thing I noticed about the instructions is that the images are much sharper. It looks like these were created on a color laser printer as opposed to lower resolution traditional printing. The colors are more vibrant and the illustrations clearer. The booklet is 16 pages long, and the instructions are broken down into 30 steps. In comparison, the Higaki Kaisen kit is 32 pages long and breaks down construction into 96 steps. On the cover is a nice image of the completed model, with the parts list on the inside front cover. Again comparing with the Higaki Kaisen kit, the Hacchoro’s parts list is about half as long.


As with all Woody Joe kits marketed in Japan, the instructions are written entirely in Japanese. But again, as with all Woody Joe kits, the instructions book is extremely well illustrated. Add to the fact that this is a much simpler build than other kits like the Higaki Kaisen or any of the Western-style ship kits, and this kit seems very build-able regardless of the text. And, I did look through the instructions as best as I could and didn’t see any sign of construction steps warning “do not glue” in Japanese.


Three black-and-white half-sheets of plans are included in the kit, each measuring about 13″ x 19″. All drawings are in scale with the model. What’s called Sheet Number 1 is actually two of these half-sheets put together and shows a full exterior side profile of the hull, an interior side cutaway of the hull, a mid-ships cross section, and a top view. Sheet Number 2 shows details of the masts, yards, sculling oars and poles for the banners.




I didn’t mention it earlier in this review, but as with all other Woody Joe kits I’ve gotten, upon opening the box, you’re hit with the wonderfully fragrant scent of Hinoki or Japanese Cypress. This seems to be the standard Woody Joe material, much like Model Shipways kits all use basswood.

Hinoki, besides smelling really nice, is a nice wood to work with. While it is brittle when dry, it only has to be wet and then it will take bends quite easily. Unlike many hard woods, it doesn’t really need soaking, it just needs to be dampened.

The kit includes 11 small laser cut sheets. The majority of these seem to be around 14″ long and probably not much more than 1-1/2″ wide. Some are smaller and a few are much longer. One thing I hadn’t noticed before was that there two of the laser cut sheets are actually what look like birch plywood. These are larger sheets that are made up of the bulkheads parts (yes, bulkheads on a traditional Japanese “Wasen” kit).

There is, of course, packages of strip woods and dowels and one package containing the parts for the display stand. The stand’s design looks like it complements the Hacchoro’s traditional Japanese-style hull quite nicely.

One small sheet of etched copper provides the pieces that form caps to fit over the ends of beams. That and a coil of brass wire which appears to be used for shaping the sails, are the only metal parts in the kit.


The sail material is very interesting. It’s a very fine weave material. I would say the quality exceeds the stuff in the Higaki Kaisen kit. To me, it seems like the nicest quality sail material I’ve seen in a ship model kit to date. The material has the seams printed in black as well as the Tokugawa mon or family crest.


The rigging line is the same quality stuff that I’ve seen in other Woody Joe kits. The stuff is very nice and I would actually consider acquiring some more of it to use on my other models. On this model, the rig is very simple, so there are only two spools of line included.


Lastly, there are the nobori or the banners that fly at the stern. Unlike Woody Joe’s Higaki Kaisen kit, which gives you blank banners to try to drawn your own Kanji (the Chinese characters used in writing Japanese), one the banners (there are two included) is pre-printed with the characters spelling Hacchoro, plus a line of characters that I haven’t translated yet, and the other displays the Tokugawa Shogun’s crest. The material used for the banners is a veil-thin fabric that shows the writing and crest almost equally well on both sides, which is kind of neat.



Kit Design

I don’t have much knowledge of Woody Joe’s past traditional Japanese-style boat (Wasen) kits, but unlike the Higaki Kaisen kit, there is no attempt to show the traditional-style construction. In fact, since there is no interior to view, the model is built western-style, with inner keel and bulkhead construction that most ship modelers will find very familiar. While it’s not authentic and doesn’t try to represent the way these ships were actually constructed in any way, it simplifies things a great deal and I think most non-Japanese ship modelers will probably feel more confident working with this kit, even without English language instructions.

Building the Model

I have so many projects in the queue that as much as I want to build this kit, I need to hold off, at least for a while. This looks like it should be a really nice short-term build however. So, if I get stuck on my other projects, need a break from them or whatnot, I’ll definitely be giving this a go. And, with the experience I have from the Higaki Kaisen build, that 50-hour rating might actually be just that. Heck, that should be like a 2-week build. Maybe I’ll just have to find a good spot to take that break after all. Ω

Woody Joe’s Hacchoro Kit Re-Release

In a matter of just over a week from now, Woody Joe will be officially re-releasing an updated version of their Edo Period “Wasen” (Traditional Japanese style boat) kit, Hacchoro (or Hattyouro). The kit went out of production for a short time as the updated release was prepared.


This is apparently a type of fishing boat that was adopted for service by the Tokugawa shogunate. At least, that’s what I think. I really haven’t done much homework on this craft yet, though I did find some Youtube videos of what look to be some local rowing competitions using these boats. They’re a lot bigger than I’d imagined. If you want to do a search, you’ll get better results using the Japanese text in your search: 八丁櫓

I don’t have a lot of details on this vessel except that it should now be laser cut and remains a scale of 1:24. The completed model should be about 23″ long, 20″ high, and 12-1/2″ wide. According to Woody Joe, this is a much simpler kit than the Higaki Kaisen and they estimate a 50 hour completion time.

Probably the most surprising change to the kit is the price. They have it listed for ¥18,000, about $180, where the old kit listed for ¥25,000, or about $250. That’s considerably less and I don’t know why yet. The kit looks the same and the completion time estimates are unchanged, so I’m not sure what’s different, if anything.

I asked Morikawa-san at Zootoyz about the kit and he said it will be in stock and on his website on June 8th. By the way, he has just set up an Amazon store for those preferring to buy through that site. Prices should be the same, but Amazon takes a cut of his revenue. I’m planning on buying the Hacchoro kit from his Amazon site so I can post a review of his service, which I’ve always found excellent.

In any case, as soon as I get the kit, I’ll post a review here. Should be up within a couple weeks.


Woody Joe’s Higaki Kaisen – More of a Challenge

The last time I wrote about my experiences with Woody Joe’s Higaki Kaisen kit, I described the issue of interpreting the Japanese instructions. The main issue there being that some steps in the instructions tell you not to glue certain parts together, and if you’re not aware of them, you’ll run into a few problems.

Well, I can tell you now that there is much more challenge beyond just watching for those key steps. I’m over 80% complete with this model and it’s been weeks since I’ve had to worry about not gluing certain pieces together. Instead, the main challenge of the ship model is cutting and aligning strip woods and laser-cut parts in the construction of the upper works of the ship.

Things slowed down quite a bit as the main effort has been with the final alignment of parts. All those earlier steps where parts were put into place now come to the test – How good a job was done on alignment of the parts in those early steps? Now parts are put into place and the you find out if they fit correctly.

Alignment Issues

In my case, there are some places where I found that parts were not quite where they should have been. In most of those cases, there was nothing terrible that stood out. However, I did end up with a gap when fitting a particular laser-cut piece into place in step 60 (out of 90). This step involved the completion of the upper works at the stern or what might be termed the poop.

Because I didn’t have everything in perfect alignment in an earlier step, I ended up with a slight gap later. This might not have been that noticeable, but I thought it best to fix the issue. There’s nothing that says you have to use the laser cut parts in the kit, so I simply took some of the scrap wood and fashioned a replacement.


An unsightly gap.


Alignment of the replacement piece.


The completed stern.


The completed stern and deck.

Not Quite According to Instructions

Another place where alignment issues came up was with the inner and outer upper walls, or bulwarks. In many ways the walls are somewhat “free floating” and don’t depend on each other too much, particularly around the main cabin. However in a later step, step 69, your supposed to fit 3mm wide stripwood pieces between them.

In my case, the separation between the walls was close enough to 3mm to work in one spot, but  the other spot where a stripwood piece was to fit, the separation was closer to 4mm. Fortunately, this didn’t affect anything significant, and I was able to use a 4mm wide strip instead.

DSC02232Different width stripwoods to make up for alignment issue.

Overall, I’d say that Just about two-thirds of the way through this kit, it kind of changes from being an assemblage of pre-cut parts, like a plastic kit, to the kinds of work you might normally expect in a wooden ship model kit. There’s a lot of cutting of stripwoods and a lot of time is spent doing a final fitting of railings, trim, etc.

Cabin Roof Configuration

Steps 64 through 67 involve the construction of the main cabin roof or quarter deck. While I cut and fit the beams into place, I decided to hold off on gluing them in or planking until I figure out how I want to display the model. The instructions show an example of how to show off the interior detail, but I’m still thinking about it.


Cabin roof beams fitted, but not glued in yet.

Painting the Hull

Before continuing, I decided it was time to paint the lower hull. This is not a step described in the kit, but bezaisen seem to have been painted black in a very particular way that doesn’t exactly follow a waterline. I used available drawings and photos of replica ships as my guide.

DSC02244This photo was taken after I completed the outer hull wall and details.

The last thing I’ll mention here is that adding the outer hull walls or bulwarks was extremely satisfying as this is when the ship pretty much looks like a bezaisen. The lattice work of the Higaki Kaisen is very thin and delicate because of the laser etching on the surface. It had to be trimmed very slightly to fit, and took a lot of care to keep from ruining it, requiring a very sharp blade. I used just a light touch of wood glue on the back to make it just tacky enough to hold it.

I’m just about 80% done with the model – getting close! Ω

Further Thoughts on Woody Joe’s Higaki Kaisen

I’ve had the Higaki Kaisen kit for close to two months now and I’ve been working on it pretty steadily except for about a 2-week period where I couldn’t due to the holidays and a shoulder problem I had. But, I’ve had a chance to work on it again and develop some more thoughts on the kit itself.


This is still a really fascinating kit and at about half-way through, it’s still fun and challenging. I’m spending a lot of time now on interior details and I’m finding that the level of challenge seems to be increasing as I get further along in the build. But, my comments on the amount of care and patience needed still hold. You really want to study the illustrations very carefully, and at this stage, you also have to be consulting the plan sheets to check measurements for the deck beams and such.

I’ve had a chance to go over the text in the instructions with someone who can read Japanese and, had they been written in English, I think it wouldn’t make all that much difference. Much of the text is there to remind you to be careful or to watch to make sure you glue a piece on with the correct side up or make sure that you line up the parts along the edge. Most of these things you can get from close study of the illustrations.

Here’s a helpful clue to successful build of this model: There are times when you are not supposed to glue parts together. Of course, this instruction is given in Japanese. However, it is always noted in red and if you can spot the Kanji (Chinese characters), you can “read” these most important instructions. The text to watch for is 接着. These are the characters for “bonding” or “gluing”. If these characters are followed by either of the negative verb endings しない, or しません, then don’t glue the indicated parts. When parts are to be glued together, the characters for gluing (again, that’s 接着) are usually followed by しますor する or simply have no verb ending at all.

So, summing up:

接着しません or 接着しない = Don’t glue together

接着します or 接着する or just plain 接着 = Glue together

This might seem like too much to deal with, but actually there isn’t a tremendous amount of text to follow. There is no separate written paragraphs of instruction, unlike in many Western kits. All the instructions are in simple steps, so there are only a few sentences with each illustration. Also, the text to watch for will be marked in red. Finally, Japanese verbs come at the end of sentences, so they’re pretty easy to locate (plus, the Japanese period is an open circle “。” – easy to spot).


Above is an example of a piece not to glue into place. In this case, you are just using the piece to aid in getting a proper angle on the cross-beam. I circled the important text in a green dashed line.


Here is another example where you are instructed not to glue the dowel in place. If you look ahead in the instructions, you will find that you later need to be able to push the dowel out temporarily.


I include this to remind the builder to look carefully as the text telling you to glue the part is similar to that which tells you not to glue. Proceed slowly, look ahead and study illustrations carefully.

I recommend going through the whole instruction book and searching very carefully through the text before beginning the build. Circle any occurrence of 接着しません or 接着しない to flag them so you’ll clearly catch them later. There really aren’t that many times that you have to avoid gluing parts, but if you miss the call to not glue, you’re going to be trying to pull apart parts at some point. On that matter, I’d also suggest that you glue sparingly. The parts in the kit are pretty light and don’t need much glue to secure them.

Alignment of parts is probably the trickiest part of this build. I’m finding it best to read ahead in the plans, see what parts are in contact with what and do a lot of test fitting. In some cases, I found it best to jump ahead on some small sub-assemblies to make sure they’ll fit into place properly when the time comes to glue them into place.

I’m about half-way through this model and I’ve run into mistakes I’ve made, most of which I was able to fix one way or another. In most cases, I glued where I shouldn’t have, but was able to pop glue joints loose to make corrections. There was one issue with the hull planks where they didn’t come together too well and I ended up having to fill a small gap, but that shouldn’t be too noticeable in the end.



I’ll post more about the build later. But, I think I’ve pretty well covered the issues you will run into when building this kit. I’m still really enjoying this build a lot. It’s neat to see it come together and the details are nice. This is definitely a kit for the patient and careful, but adventurous modeler. Ω

Initial Thoughts on Woody Joe’s Higaki Kaisen

Recently, my kit review of Woody Joe’s Kanrin Maru kit was published in Seaways’ Ships in Scale and I’ve since begun looking at Woody Joe’s Higaki Kaisen kit. I’ll develop a complete review pretty soon, but I have had a chance to work on the model a bit and I do have some initial thoughts on the Higaki Kaisen kit.


My first impression is that it’s a fascinating looking build of a traditional Japanese ship. There are a lot of laser cut parts and it’s missing the traditional framework we’re used to seeing in ship model kits, but there is a small set of frames that make up temporary building molds that helps hold the hull parts in place during construction.


Building this model is very different than building a traditional ship model. In some ways, it’s a little bit like building a plastic kit in that there are so many pre-fabricated parts. But, the ship’s design is so different from Western ships that it seems like a lot of engineering had to be done to create the kit. This makes it a fun build, but it also means that parts have to be placed very specifically (unlike with most plastic kits which provide alignment pins), and if one part is not aligned properly, it will affect the fitting of other parts later, so it requires a lot of patience and care. This is not a kit that can be rushed.

Looking at the manual in the kit, you can tell right away that this is an involved build – it’s 32 pages long and packed with illustrations. There are so many illustrations that you almost don’t need to know any Japanese to build it. Almost.


The Higaki Kaisen is not like the western style ship Kanrin Maru. A ship modeler who builds the Kanrin Maru pretty much recognized the parts in that kit and has a general idea where things are going to go. If the part is not familiar, the placement in the illustrations are usually enough to clarify things. But, the average ship modeler looking at a part on the traditional Japanese style ship Higaki Kaisen is more likely to have no clue as to what the part is for or how it’s supposed to fit. The illustrations in the instructions help, but there are many places where the builder is told, in Japanese, not to glue certain parts into place. And, if you have no way of reading that text, it’s going to be a problem.

As I see it, the best way to deal with this is to either know someone who can read some Japanese for you, or to look for an English language guide to the kit. So far, I’m not aware of one, so if no one else does it, I may try to put something together. We’ll see.


Even if you can follow all of the instructions, the unusual design of the Higaki Kaisen and the engineering that went into it sometimes requires steps that aren’t all that apparent. For instance, in one step, several beams are added and all of them glued into place except one, which must remain loose until a later time. Also alignment of parts is very critical, so you want to make sure you are extremely careful and look well ahead in the instructions to see what is going to happen later with the part you’re working on. It may actually make sense to jump ahead and fashion some sub-assemblies that are installed later, to make sure that the will fit properly with the parts you’re currently putting into place.

All that said, this is an incredibly interesting model to work on. It’s a lot less predictable than other ship model kits since the vessel is so different. I know my own build won’t be perfect, but with care any mistakes will be fixable, or at least they will be hideable, and its completion is going to be a fun and interesting journey. Ω

Following My Woody Joe Kit

Several days ago, I placed my order with Zootoyz for Woody Joe’s Higaki Kaisen kit. I paid for the order using Paypal, which made the whole transaction very simple and the order with shipping came to about $305 including the express mail shipping. That by itself was about $37. I could have paid for a less expensive shipping method and paid about half that shipping cost, but I’m really anxious to get this kit, so I opted for the faster shipping.

It took a couple days for my order to get processed and shipped, partly due to the time differences, and partly due to an order modification I requested. You see, I originally thought I’d spring for the larger Wasen Sengokubune kit, but I kind of chickened out. That model is a 1:30-scale model of a type of vessel that I thought should be about the same as the Higaki Kaisen, but I’ll go into that more in a future post.

In any case, I was a little concerned that the larger, older kit might actually be less detailed, and I really wanted to learn about how these vessels were built. But, not only that, most of my online search for these kinds of boats kept turning up Higaki Kaisen boats, so that’s what I went for.


A Higaki Kaisen

Anyway, I received an email within 48 hours that my order had shipped and provided a tracking number, so I’ve been visiting the Japanese mail system tracking page to check up on it. Fortunately, the information is coming up in English. Yesterday, the order was in transit somewhere in Japan. But, this morning it looked as if my model kit was in the hands of U.S. Customs, hopefully treating it well. I checked again this evening and the status says “Departure from inward office of exchange”. I’m not sure what that means, but maybe it means it left customs and is back to the U.S.P.S.

So, will it be here tomorrow? Friday? I’m hopeful that I’ll have it by the weekend, but who knows what more rigors the package must go through before it gets to me. Stay tuned!

Update – Thursday, 11/7/13

The knock came on my door this morning and there was the mailman with my package from Zootoyz. Very exciting! Of course, I opened it up immediately, just to give it a quick look. First thing I noticed was the wafting aroma of Japanese Cedar – that wonderful scent! The box is compact, the artwork on it is very nice, and it’s packed with wood and parts. I see four half-sized sheets of plans and very well illustrated book of instructions.

I’ll start a review soon.

The Next Woody Joe Kit Review

In just a couple weeks or so, the next issue of Seaways’ Ships in Scale should be on its way out to subscribers, and with it my first ship model kit review article. The proofs of the article were sent to me last week and I made some corrections and sent them in. The article is an out of the box review of Woody Joe’s Kanrin Maru kit. The article includes much of the material that I posted here on my blog, but also a few interesting tidbits I learned about the Woody Joe company.

The editors seemed pretty happy with the article. Frankly, I think they’re happy any time they get an article that doesn’t require a lot of fixing, and I’ve been fortunate enough to have several peers read over my work for me to screen out most of the problems, both in grammar and in content. Since they seem interested in more kit reviews, I’ve been considering another Woody Joe kit, since there seems to be an interest in their seldom seen kits.

I’ve have three Woody Joe subjects I’ve been interested in, the Charles Royal Yacht, the Edo period boat Higaki-Kaisen and another Edo period boat, the Wasen Sengokubune.


I really like the Charles Yacht as it’s a very attractive model and I think it’s a very intriguing kit designed be a couple members from the Japanese ship model society called The Rope. The kit is at a scale of 1/64, which makes it very scale compatible with a lot of Model Shipways, Caldercraft and Amati’s Victory Line of kits. The decorative nature of the ship is extremely appealing and I can imagine wanting to gold leaf all those decorative fittings. The kit’s builds to a medium to smallish model at 18″ long, but this results in a kit that weighs only about 3 lbs., which helps to keep the cost of the kit and the shipping down. The only drawback I can see with this kit is that it appears it may not be a model of a specific vessel, but rather a type of vessel, and the model is based on examples of these Dutch yachts found in the National Maritime Museum. But, this makes it really no different from Model Expo’s 18th Century English Longboat.


The next subject, the Wasen Sengokubune is an Edo period sailing transport used for coastal trade. Wasen is the term for a Japanese style boat, while Sengokubune refers to the boat’s cargo capacity of 1000 Koku. One koku being about 5 bushels and originally defined as the volume of rice required to feed one person for a year. The kit is at the relatively large scale of 1:30 and measures about 22″ long and just under 20″ high. The larger size of the kit makes it fairly heavy and shipping is a bit expensive, but it’s one of the less expensive kits, so that helps to balance out the overall cost. My only concern with the kit is that at the larger scale, the kit might be a bit light on detail. That may not actually be the case, but I realized that I’m not ready to risk the purchase just to find out.


The last subject, the Higaki-Kaisen is one of the more recent Woody Joe offerings. It’s an Edo period sailing transport used for coastal trade between Osaka and Edo (now Tokyo) by the Higaki guild of Osaka. The word “Kaisen” simply means cargo boat. Woody Joe’s model is at scale of 1:72 and measures just under 16-1/2″ long, so it’s not particularly big. However, the kit features some interior details with their other kits don’t, giving the viewer a better sense of what these boats were really like, and adding what looks like some nice realistic detail.

Of these three kits, the newer ones seem more appealing. I’m guessing they’re better designed, but that really is just a guess. I’ll be finding out more about that in future purchases. For now, my growing interest in traditional Japanese boats and the details of the Higaki Kaisen make that kit the most appealing for now. So, that’s what I decided to spring for. The model was recently ordered from Zootoyz (Zootoyz is an easy to deal with company that takes credit cards as well as Paypal orders and provides good prices and reasonable shipping and communicates in English) and should arrive by Express Mail by the end of next week and I’m eagerly anticipating it, even with all the other projects I need to be working on!  Ω

Higaki-Kaisen from Woody Joe

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

Kit Review: Kanrin Maru by Woody Joe – Addendum

Having actually started work on the kit, there is one thing I want to point out. As I mentioned in the earlier parts of my review, some of the wood used for the laser cut parts in the Woody Joe kit are very thin and have been laser cut very finely. For the plywood parts and the thicker wooden parts (which look like Poplar) that’s not much of a problem. But, some of the finer parts are cut from thin Mahogany. And, to the company’s credit, they use straight Mahogany, not Mahogany plywood. For larger pieces, this isn’t too much of a problem, but the skylight frames and the mast top details have some very thin pieces and even if you are very careful, they will break in multiple places.


When building the mast tops, I was very careful, but I still had the first two laser cut Mahogany pieces break on me. This isn’t really a tragedy as long as you keep all the pieces closely accounted for. It is wood, after all, and anything wooden is relatively straight forward to repair cleanly. But, by the time I got to the last one, I got smart (it happens now and again) and here’s is my advice:

When you get to the mast tops, don’t cut the Mahogany detail pieces (parts 15A&B) from their sheet. Instead, cut the wooden platform pieces (14A&B) from their sheet and glue them onto the Mahogany detail pieces while still on their sheet. After these have dried, it is safe to cut them from from the Mahogany sheet without fear of breakage.



The next most fragile pieces seem to be the skylight frames. I had breakage issues with these too, but repairing them was much simpler. I don’t have any advice on preventing them from breaking. I did consider gluing a paper backing onto them that could later be removed, but decided to just go with the careful cutting and a little repair work. Anyway, it’s a relatively easy fix.