Our first weekend, however, we went to Gifu City to meet with the last builder of the iconic cormorant fishing boat. The meeting was to discuss my apprenticing with him sometime in the coming year. He has commissions right now for two boats, having delivered a boat last year. There are nine cormorant fishermen in Gifu City and the boats last about 10-15 years. Right now there is a cycle of fishermen getting new boats.
This work is crucial, because Tajiri san works entirely from memory, aided by various patterns only he understands. He has never had an apprentice and so its crucial that his design and techniques be documented if this craft is to survive. I first met Tajiri's master Nasu san back in the 1990s and I tried to apprentice with him, but he became too ill to work. Tajiri had apprenticed with Nasu right out of high school but then gone off and become a bathtub and bucket maker like his father. With Nasu san's retirement decades later Tajiri san came back to build boats.