Thursday, November 19, 2009

A Traditional Japanese Boat

In 2001 I had the good fortune to meet master wooden boat builder Douglas Brooks, a friend of a then Japanese teacher colleague of mine. Mr. Brooks was in Japan to build replicas of Japanese wooden boats thanks to a grant from the Japan Foundation, and he had come to Niigata Prefecture to learn the art of taraibune (たらい舟;tub-boat) construction. At that time six fishing villages on Niigata's offshore island of Sado were the only communities in which the once-common boat was still in regular use, and the sole remaining craftsman on the island was in poor health. Mr Brooks spent weeks on Sado learning the art from its only practitioner, and at the end of his stay he visited the junior high school at which I and his friend taught at the time. Mr. Brooks had managed to bring a taraibune with him, and what a treat it was to see the beautiful craft up close!

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