Author: Douglas Brooks
This is the story of the author's apprenticeships with Japanese masters to build five unique and endangered traditional boats. It is part ethnography, part instruction, and part the personal story of a wooden boatbuilder fueled by a passion to preserve a craft tradition on the brink of extinction. Over the course of 17 trips to Japan, Douglas Brooks traveled over 30,000 miles to seek out and interview Japan's elderly master boatbuilders; he built boats with five of them, all in their seventies and eighties, between 1996 and 2010. For most of them, Brooks was their sole and last apprentice. Part I introduces significant aspects of traditional Japanese boatbuilding: design, workshop and tools, wood and materials, joinery and fastenings, propulsion, ceremonies, and the apprenticeship system. Part II details each of his five apprenticeships, concluding with a poignant chapter on Japan's sole remaining traditional shipwright. This fascinating book fills a large and long-standing gap in the literature on Japanese crafts, and will be of interest to boatbuilders, woodworkers, and all those impressed with the marvels of Japanese design and workmanship.