Japanese Boatbuilding Talk Planned at Museum

The Japan America Society of Maine (JASM) and the Maine Maritime Museum in Bath have teamed up to co-sponsor a talk by Douglas Brooks on Japanese boatbuilding. The presentation will be held at Maine Maritime Museum on May 10 at 6:30 p.m. Douglas Brooks has apprenticed with five different boatbuilders in Japan since 1996. In this slide talk he will share his experiences with traditional crafts drawn from over a dozen trips to Japan since 1990.

Douglas Brooks is a boatbuilder, writer, and researcher. He specializes in the construction of traditional wooden boats for museums and private clients. He worked in the Small Boat Shop at the National Maritime Museum in San Francisco from 1985-1990 and has since built boats at museums in Japan and across the United States. He teaches classes in boat building and regularly publishes articles on his research.

“We are very excited to work with Maine Maritime Museum to bring Mr. Brooks to Maine,” says JASM President, David Fulenwider. “Building boats and going to sea are so integral to both Maine and Japanese cultures and yet the tools, techniques, and designs used in Japan are often completely different than ours.”

In addition to building replicas of North American boats, Douglas has been researching traditional Japanese boat building since 1990, focusing on the techniques and design secrets of the craft. These techniques have been passed from master to apprentice with almost no written record. He has studied with five boatbuilders in Japan building six types of traditional boats. His first book, The Tub Boats of Sado Island: A Japanese Craftsman’s Methods was published in Japan in 2003 and was later honored by the Japanese Ministry of Culture. His second book, Sabani; Building The Traditional Okinawan Fishing Boat was published by the Museum of Maritime Science, Tokyo, Japan, 2011. He is currently working on his third book, due to be published later this year.

Brooks attended the Williams Mystic Seaport Program in American Maritime History in 1980, and he is a 1982 graduate of Trinity College (B.A. Philosophy) and a 2002 graduate of the Middlebury College Language School (Japanese). He lives in Vergennes, Vermont. To see photos of his boats and learn more about his research on traditional Japanese boatbuilding, please visit www.douglasbrooksboatbuilding.com.

The event is open to the public; JASM and museum members $5, non members $7. Maine Maritime Museum is located at 243 Washington Street in Bath. For more information and to register, please visit the Museum’s web site at www.mainemaritimemuseum.org/events/apprentice-boatbuilder-japan/, or contact Jason Morin at 443-1316.