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Japanese Wooden Boatbuilding


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About the Author

Author Douglas Brooks is a boatbuilder, writer, and researcher specializing in the construction of traditional wooden boats for museums and private clients. Since 1990 he has been researching traditional Japanese boatbuilding, focusing on the techniques and design secrets of the craft. In 2014, Brooks received the Rare Craft Fellowship Award from the American Craft Council. To learn more about his research, visit:


This is a magnificent study. Its minuteness and clarity of detail will fascinate not only wooden boat builders, but anyone interested in the craftsmanship and culture of an earlier Japan. -- James F. English, Jr., Director Emeritus of Trinity College and Mystic Seaport Museum This entrancing book reveals a world of sleek, practical forms perfected over centuries, of dedicated craftsmanship practiced today by just a few. Douglas Brooks's precious record of that world is is dense with information, beautifully designed, and highly readable. -- Louise Cort, Curator, Smithsonian Institution, and author of A Basketmaker in Rural Japan You have produced a bible of the small wooden boat evolution. Yes, the book is about Japanese boatbuilding but you have shown how every human culture began boatbuilding by use of the creative and analytic parts of their brain. Did I say I like Japanese Wooden Boatbuilding and that it is fabulous? It should be a bestseller. -- Dick Wagner, Founder, Center for Wooden Boats Japanese Wooden Boatbuilding will effortlessly find a welcome place in so many diverse bookshelves for a delightfully wide ranging list of reasons. At its heart, JWB is unquestionably a must-have for that small cadre of Japanese traditional small craft devotees. Beyond this exclusive audience, wooden boatbuilders of all stripes, woodworkers, furniture makers, professional and amateur Japanologists - whether focused on the art, architecture, culture, crafts, history, or language of Japan - all will find ample rewards among its pages. Moreover, JWB stands on its own as an engaging narrative as well, proving that author Douglas Brooks has mastered two challenging and elusive crafts: writing in English and boat building in Japanese. On a par with the classic Japanese Country Style, Yoshihiro Takishita's adoring treatise on restoring traditional minka farmhouses, Japanese Wooden Boatbuilding is an insightful and enchanting window into the remarkable macrocosm of Japan and its boatbuilding traditions. -- Tom Morse, Writer, Ocean Navigator An invaluable record of vanishing watercraft and the ways in which they are made, and a compelling record of a personal journey of dis--covery. Lavishly illustrated and lovingly wrought, it belongs on the shelf of anyone with more than a passing interest in the craft of wooden boat building. -- John Summers WoodenBoat magazine, December 2015 On one level, Japanese Wooden Boatbuilding is a how it's done book. On another, it's a memoir full of complicated, brilliant, well wrought characters plus plenty of narrative and local color. It's also a travel adventure book and a story about an American couple who grew and learned as they entered and took part in a world almost lost. -- Hilary Russell Messing about in Boats, April 2016

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