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First Japan Rail Layout


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Added bracket to support controller and made progress on low relief warehouses. Decided to changeover to representing JNR in its "Black Railway" period. May even go as far as swapping out the DE10 for a suitable steam shunter....


See updates in pictures:







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Hi, back on JNSF after  break and thought I would share with you the new project that I have been working on in the interim.


Before that however, my original "Niihama" layout is still up and running although I am not actively making any additions or updates to it, just enjoying running it. Same with "Iyo-Mishima" which is now also on "care and maintenance" basis.


I've still been going out to Japan at roughly 6 month intervals on railway photography trips (now on hold unfortunately 😟) and during a side trip to Inuyama Castle I had inspiration for my new project: to build a diorama of a Japanese Castle in 1:58 scale to match the 28 mm Samurai figures that are available for war-gaming.


The plans for Inuyama Castle are available to download on their official website ( https://inuyama-castle.jp/ ) and I used these as a starting point to plan the construction of my castle.


Using the same the techniques I used on "Niihama", the castle structure is being built using balsa wood, spruce strip and assorted bamboo products such as cocktail and kebab sticks. Rock and landscape surfaces from "polyfilla" (equivalent is "spackle" or "hydrocal" in the US) suitably carved, over balsa formers.  Painting and weathering is with Revell acrylics and bare wood varnished with polyurethane.


To give you some idea of the model size, the  main building is approximately 300 mm or 12" square and the overall height will be about 360 mm or  14". The diorama base is  600 mm or 24" by  900 mm or 36".


Construction started in November 2019 with the diorama base built using pine and plywood same as the baseboard for Niihama.


Image 1 shows the castle base construction of balsa formers overlaid with polyfilla which was textured whilst wet by being pressed with paper towel, then carved to represent rocks and painted then weathered with acrylics.


Image 2 shows the beams in place for the first floor with the main uprights to support all of the upper floors.


Image 3 shows floors 1 and 2 in progress (unfortunately I lost the preceding construction pictures in changing my phone 😖)


Image 4 shows the construction of the main roof.


The interior is detailed and is accessible through removable walls and sections. I'll show this in my next post along with some of the to be inhabitants...




1. Castle base.jpg

2. Castle frame.jpg

3. First Second Floors.jpg

4. Main Roof.jpg

  • Like 12
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That's coming along beautifully!
On the gaming side, Test of Honour is a fun samurai skirmish game that has been spurring a lot of the recent 28mm figure releases and wealth of laser cut 1/56 model kits.

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Few more construction pictures:


Images 6 & 7 show where I've made a first floor wall removable to be able to gain access for adding figures and interior detailing.


Image 8 shows where the centre of the main roof  is lifted off so as to get access to the second floor main room with its sliding panel doors complete with suitable artwork.


Image 9 shows how in turn the second floor main room is itself removable so as to get access to the first floor main room where the "daimyo" is currently having a meeting.


Image 10 shows the front wall of the tower that guards the castle entrance is also removable for access.


Image 11 shows what at Inuyama Castle they claim is an opening for dropping oil or stones on attackers but in reality is the "thunderbox" or toilets for the castle emptying straight down the castle wall...


The internal stairs are modeled on examples of the original style of stairs that I've seen which were very steep, with limited access into the next floor, and with small treads presumably to make upwards access difficult for attackers but easy for defenders to go down. Most Castles that I have been to in Japan have had these replaced for modern health and safety reasons.


I'm currently working on the framing for the third floor which is complicated by needing to be robust enough to lift off for access to the second floor whilst being built with the thinnest gauge beams - the wood beams used reduce in section for each floor in turn as in actual castles.


On 3/26/2020 at 7:07 PM, Cat said:

That's coming along beautifully!
On the gaming side, Test of Honour is a fun samurai skirmish game that has been spurring a lot of the recent 28mm figure releases and wealth of laser cut 1/56 model kits.


I have some samurai from "https://footsoreminiatures.co.uk/collections/test-of-honour-warring-clans" that I'll put up a picture of and also some from "https://www.perry-miniatures.com" that I am intending to start to paint.  I also have some laser cut buildings and a bridge from "www.sarissa-precision.com" mainly to help try to get the scale consistent as I find myself reverting back to smaller gauge construction when deep in the modeling zone. These buildings I will paint later and add more detail to them such as thatching, etc.

6. Removable wall First Floor.jpg

7. Removable wall First Floor.jpg

8. Second Floor Internal.jpg

9. Access to First Floor centre.jpg

10. Tower access.jpg

11. Side view.jpg

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Looking forward to seeing the castle with figures and then other buildings!
A friend of mine has also done some beautiful kits for his business:

I've enjoyed playing Test of Honour, but so far have resisted buying into the game.  I have more than enough other gaming and hobby projects piled all over the place here.  Although, if someone at the local gaming club were to gear up for hosting games, then I would break down gather figures and paint my own clan forces.

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Wow, I've only seen and been inside the Matsumoto Castle and what I remember most were the really steep stairs or ladders to go from one level to the other.  It was quite a workout and required some agility to navigate them.  I was reminded of them when I saw your model.

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More recent activity. I am working on the third or top floor into which I am putting more detail as it will be the most visible. Also now have a few Samurai to guard the Castle - my first attempt at painting figures in this scale. They are painted with acrylics and then clear varnished to minimise the risk of handling scratches or paint damage.

12. Samurai.jpg

13. Third Floor frame.jpg

14. Third Floor construction.jpg

15. Third Floor construction.jpg

  • Like 7
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The castle itself is beautiful, but what I like most is the way you've done the stonework of the foundations. It looks superb.


All the best,



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Wanted to share this. My son is on the right. He is part of the first medical team to go into action today in the fight against CV19 at the new 4,000-bed Nightingale emergency hospital in London.

Greg at Nightingale..jpg

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Wow this is amazing! I love how the castle look, complete with Samurais! Nice!! Thanks for sharing! 


On 4/8/2020 at 4:40 AM, yakumo381 said:

Wanted to share this. My son is on the right. He is part of the first medical team to go into action today in the fight against CV19 at the new 4,000-bed Nightingale emergency hospital in London.



My salutes to a true hero! 

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Impressive stuff. The technique of using wet paper towel on Polyfilla to give texture is pretty good...I may well use that myself!


I do love Japanese castles. We paid a visit to Matsumoto castle back in 2014. They had an English language guide - our chap was a retired teacher of about 75. The steps were steep, and as we had to remove our shoes, rather slippery; which made keeping up with him a challenge. He was like a Ibex going up and down those stairs...  

Edited by Claude_Dreyfus
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