Japanese Wasen Model Display in San Francisco

The latest Japanese boat model display by ship modeler Clare Hess is now on display at San Francisco’s Japan Center.


The display is located in the window of the community room of Union Bank, which is in the East Mall building of the Japan Center Mall in San Francisco.

Three models are featured this time around, making for a much more complete display than the last two, which consisted of only two models. The models are shown below.

Higaki Kaisen – A Japanese coastal transport from the Edo Period. This sailing ship operated in vast numbers between Osaka and Edo (now Tokyo), maintaining the flow of consumer goods which supported the growing cities economy.

Higaki Kaisen

Hacchoro – An 8-oared fishing boat used by the fishermen of the Daizu region south of Mt. Fuji. This model features the family crest of the Tokugawa Shogunate because many of these boats were said to have been commissioned as guard boats for the retired Shogun Tokugawa Ieyasu. Special permission was said to have been granted for these boats to be equipped with 8 oars so that they could keep up with the Shogun’s boat. This is how these boats got their name, as Hacchoro literally translates as “8 oars.”



Yakatabune – These houseboats were initially owned by nobility for leisure use, but were very popular during the peace and growing prosperity of the merchant class. During the Edo period, it became common to rent a yakatabune to entertain guests or for viewing the fireworks at festival time or cherry blossoms in the Spring. These boats became a cultural symbol of growing prosperity.


The display runs now through the end of December, 2015. Ω

Ship Modeler

This week, I installed my latest display of models of traditional style Japanese boats at the Japan Center in San Francisco. If you haven’t seen it before and are in the area, this is a good display to check out. This time around, I added a third model to the collection, my Yakatabune model. So now, there is the Higaki Kaisen (1/72-scale), Hacchoro and Yakatabune models (both 1/24-scale). All three models were built from kits by Woody Joe of Japan.

The display will run from now through all of November and December in the window of the Union Bank community room, which is in the East Mall building.


One thing I discovered while setting up the new display is that this is a much better time of year to display the models. Because of the lower angle of the sun, the there is far less glare from the skylight above, making…

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