Saturday, June 6, 2015

Sawara City, Chiba Prefecture, river boats

I spent part of yesterday in Sawara City on the way to Lake Kasumigaura.  This city is known for its amazing collection of buildings along either side of a canal that runs through the old center of town.  Its a very picturesque tourist site today, but this whole area has a lot of various tourist boats, many of which are built of wood.  Three local boatbuilders supplied these boats.  In 2002 I met one of them, Mr. Takeshi Tada.

He was busy building wooden boats for the tourist companies when I first met him.  This has always been one of my favorite photos from Japan.

He seemed pretty stern when I met him in 2002 but he was all smiles seeing me again, though he now does only fiberglass work.

The shop has lost a lot of its charm...  He didn't seem to mind no longer building in wood.

We asked if the two wooden boats passing the shop were his and, without even looking up, Tada replied, "In this area they are all mine."

These are very interesting little wooden outboards.  We have the name of the builder but he says he's not available today to meet.  He's not building these anymore.  Both he and Tada san are in their 80s now.

One of the old buildings in Sawara.

A gorgeous old kura (the oldest in Sawara is 250 years old).  The vacant lot was an old building lost in the 2011 earthquake.

I remember photographing this sappabune in 2002.  "Sappa" means "bamboo leaf." 

The boat was floating in 2002.  I was told its about 25 years old and the last of its kind.  I am off to measure another one my guide knows about.

New construction in town.

Fiberglass tour boats.

On the boat ride we saw this, a wooden boat covered in fiberglass.  Its called a chokkibune, which is the type I built in Tokyo in 2002

I make take a shot at measuring this sappabune as well.

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