Urayasu Folk History Museum (Urayasu Kyodo Hakubutsukan), Urayasu, Chiba Prefecture, Japan


Bekabune (also known as noribune) are boats used by fishermen to gather edible seaweed. Up until the end of the 1960's hundreds of these boats were built and used on Tokyo Bay, most notably in the communities of Urayasu and Ota-ku. By the 1970's pollution and landfill development were destroying the fishing grounds and with them, the culture of boat building. The construction techniques of bekabune include a unique type of flush seam planking called nokkedukuri.


In 2000 I was invited to apprentice with the last builder of these boats in Urayasu. The project inaugurated the opening of a museum boatshop at the Urayasu Folk History Museum.

Over 15,000 people visited the museum during the boat building project. The boatshop was readily accessible to the public, with displays of boat building tools and a video monitor showing boat building techniques. The Urayasu Museum's use of live demonstration has been tremendously popular with the public and the museum has become a de facto second home for many retired fishermen of the community. In addition to many subsequent boat building projects, a boat building preservation society has been formed as well as a club to practice throwing fishing nets.

For more information about this boat see Japanese Boats page and Research and Publications page.

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