While we waited for the crane Mr. Oka showed me some historic photos of his father and his boats. His father apprenticed with a local boatbuilder at age fifteen and went out on his own at age 21. He was drafted two weeks before the end of World War Two. In the first photo he’s on the right in the foreground. He had been building small boats only in the village next door but right after the war he began working for several months in the spring building larger salmon fishing boats in Hokkaido. I’ve heard this in other places in Japan; boatbuilders doing seasonal work up north. I think post-war Hokkaido’s population was starting to grow but there weren’t enough skilled tradespeople. There was also seasonal work in the sardine fishery.
We took a group photo with all the staff just before the crane arrived. The boat went in the water and Mr. Oka sent an employee aboard to check everywhere for leaks. He didn’t find any. I don’t chalk this up to any superb skills on my part, just judicious attention paid to any potential problem spots for leaks. The crane operator told me the boat weighed 400 kilograms, or 880 pounds. I would have guessed a couple of hundred pounds more! She draws about four inches of water.
A final look at my view, gazing across the Inland Sea to Shodoshima. Tomorrow morning early I catch the bus to Kyoto for a long weekend, then its home to Vermont. While in Kyoto I am hoping to visit a mine where they cut natural sharpening stones. For my teachers who had them, these were always the most expensive tools they owned, generally $1,000 to $1,500 apiece. If I get the tour I'll post about it.