Saturday, March 26, 2016

Getting Ready

The last few days have been about prepping for the official start of the project, which was today (blog post to come describing a Shinto ceremony, etc.).

The entrance to the museum.  My temporary workshop space is visible in the background.

A look at the shop, more than adequate for building the boat.

Just inside the main floor of the building is a boat exhibition which accompanies my project, intended to educate visitors to the wider story of Japanese boatbuilding and my own work.  In a word, its spectacular, done with exquisite attention to detail, featuring fascinating artifacts.  The back wall displays historic boatbuilding tools on loan from the Seto Inland Sea Museum.  Unfortunately they asked they not be photographed.

Historic documents relating to shipbuilding.

A panel devoted to the tsunami of March 11, 2011.  The boat I am building comes from this region.  Something not often talked about is the loss of material culture in the disaster.  This coastline had the largest concentration of wooden boats I've seen anywhere in Japan, and estimates range from 90-95% of all boats were destroyed in the disaster.

A panel describing my five previous apprenticeships with Japanese boatbuilders.  In the foreground is the tub boat I built with my own apprentice in 2001.

A panel with one of my articles along with my website on a laptop for visitors to browse.

A final panel highlighting my work last spring with Angela Robins documenting the work of Tohoku's last active boatbuilder, Mr. Hiroshi Murakami.  The boat I am building is a replica of Murakami's boat.  I began blogging about our research project last spring starting here.

Two interesting fellows appeared today, in traditional workers' garb.  They are roof thatchers (forgot to ask how you say that in Japanese), Mr. Yu Osaki and Mr. Ikuya Sagara.  They served five-year apprenticeships in Kyoto and told me they have plenty of work just in this area alone.  Check out their website,

Stay tuned for lots of postings about the process over the next six weeks.

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