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Thursday, August 8, 2013

Japanese Tenmasen Under Construction

Model of a Japanese tenmasen workboat. All images courtesy Douglas Brooks (click any image to enlarge.)
The Japanese tenmasen is, according to Douglas Brooks, "a typical small cargo boat from the Inland Sea region." Brooks, an American boatbuilder who specializes in researching and reproducing Japanese traditional small craft, is now building a tenmasen as part of the the 2013 Setouchi Festivale, an arts and crafts event in the town of Setouchi, on the shores of the Inland Sea. (We've written previously about Brooks, including his sabani [a hewn-plank canoe-like boat] and taraibune [a "tub boat"] projects.) 
Lines of a tenmasin.
To describe the drawing and the boat itself, I'll quote an email communication from Brooks:
The lines drawings are from the Seto Nai Kai Museum and date from the 1950's or so. The boat was built in Ushimado, a community now called Setouchi. Very typical Japanese small boat style, with the aft end of the plank keel uplifted, and two planks per side. One interesting feature is the two piece transom which is not in one plane but joined at an angle. In the drawing you can see the two stations used by the builder, another common element of boatbuilders here, who used far less reference points than their western counterparts. 
 Overall length is about twenty feet. 
This boat would have been propelled off the stern by a ro, or Japanese sculling oar, similar to the Chinese yuloh.  

Another interesting feature of the transom that Brooks did not mention is that it is recessed far forward of the aft ends of the planks.
Brooks at work on the Setouchi tenmasen.
Brooks is maintaining a detailed blog of the project. Here is the most recent post, but to read it in chronological order, go to the first post and then click "newer post" over and over. There's also a blog primarily for Japanese readers.

Visit Douglas Brooks' website. It's also the source to purchase his book, The Tub Boats of Sado Island, which is not available on Amazon.

1 comment:

  1. Very interesting to think about how the design of this wooden boat must have evolved as a function of the planned usage, water and weather conditions, materials and tools available. Nice photos and building log by Brooks, too.

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