Very soon, our Director of Student Affairs and Outreach, Nina Noah, will be leaving to spend 6 weeks in Japan. She’ll be there as a representative of The Apprenticeshop, working together with Douglas Brooks and Mr. Hideto Bansho, the last boatbuilder of the Echigo region on the Sea of Japan, to build a small fishing boat called a tenmasen.
The goal of the project is twofold. Boatbuilding in Japan is currently in crisis. Japan’s rapid growth in the post-War years disrupted the system of apprenticeship that sustained and nurtured it. Without a new generation of apprentices, craftspeople have been unable to pass on their knowledge. It is critical now to document the work of Japan’s last generation of boatbuilders to preserve this knowledge before it vanishes. With the assistance of multimedia specialist Benjamin Meader, Douglas and Nina will document the building process as they go through it using a variety of forms, including written and oral narrative, digital map, photograph, and video. The other major goal of the project is to develop a boatbuilding exchange program for the Apprenticeshop. The exchange program will bring students to Japan to document and study boatbuilding from the last masters of the craft, experiencing a craft culture wholly unlike the American one they are familiar with.
You can learn more about the project and support it here.