Japanese Pacific Ocean Liner


Hasegawa  no. 503

Scale 1:700 Water Line Series

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History of HIKAWA MARU

The 11,622 GRT (gross Registered Ton) Hikawa Maru was built in 1929 by Yokohama Dock Co – yard 177, for the Nippon Yusen KK line, Tokyo .

She was launched on September 30, 1929 and commenced her maiden voyage Kobe to Seattle on May 13, 1930. Service combined with superb food saw her become a much sought after ship and passengers gave her the nickname “Queen of the Pacific.”

Amazingly Hikawa Maru and other N.Y.K. passenger ships were involved in assisting Jewish refugees escape from the Holocaust. There were those who escaped via Japan and sailed to Canada , as did a Mr. Zorach Warhaftig who later wrote a book entitled; “Refugee and Survivor, Rescue Attempts during the Holocaust. He and his family departed Yokohama on Hikawa Maru on June 5, 1941 bound for Vancouver Canada. His book describes the sailing as a summer vacation and with the war seeming to be so far away, although, he said “I didn’t have a peaceful mind because of the strong responsibility I had to help the Jewish refugees with the troubles they faced.” The book is by Zorach Warhaftig and was published by Hara Shobo.

Late 1941 Hikawa Maru became a hospital ship. For this role her hull and funnel was painted all white with a wide green band along her hull, as well as two red crosses on each side and on the superstructure and funnel.

On August 14, 1945, Japan surrendered unconditionally and amazingly Hikawa Maru was to be the only mainstream Imperial Japanese passenger liner to survive World War II and biggest surviving vessel. She was immediately seized by the US government. From 1945 to 1947 she was used to transport US personal between the States and Japan. In 1947 Hikawa Maru operated as a simple freighter to the United States East Coast. This service ended in 1954. Thereafter she was refitted into a fine passenger liner once more and she re-commenced her original trans-Pacific service.

As passenger numbers dwindled, it was decided to end her service in 1960. Soon another role was found for her. In 1961 Hikawa Maru was fitted out to become a floating youth hostel and museum. Sadly some of her engine spaces and lower accommodation decks were gutted to facilitate dormitories. As the years passed visitors to the hostel declined and it closed in 1973. She remained at her berth to continue as a museum, but also as a restaurant and banquet facility. During the summer a beer garden was operated out on her open decks. Then, late 2002, the restaurant closed. Having only a museum and the summer beer garden numbers of visitor’s to the ship dramatically dropped, bringing the future of the Hikawa Maru in crisis.

Hikawa Maru continues to be promoted on Kanagawa Now - Yokohama tourist guide. It reads … 

“In front of Yamashita Park lies the anchoring passenger ship Hikawamaru, formerly called “the Queen of the Pacific.” It was in service for 30 years from 1930 to 1960. The luxurious interior of the liner is open to the public, including the guest room formerly used by Charlie Chaplin.”


Technical specification:

Length                    163.3m (536ft)

Beam                      20.1m (66ft)

Gross tonnage          11,622 tons

Engine                    Burmeister & Wain diesel Copenhagen, DENMARK

Propulsion                Twin screws

Service speed          17 knots (max 18.5)

Accommodations       339 passengers – (75 first, 70 tourist, 186 third)

Maiden voyage         1930

Final voyage            1960 She had carried 25,000 passengers in 238 trans-Pacific voyages


  Building the model:

This is my second liner from the days before WWII, and this was also an appealing project for me. I was looking forward to start on the kit when it arrived from Germany. The ship is a nice break from the all gray warships in my collection and will fit fine with my first liner of N.Y.K. KASUGA MARU.

The building process was expected by me to be a "walk in the park" as the well enjoyment of the former build. But here I was wrong ! The kit it self is beautiful crafted by Hasegawa (special when you think of it's ages) there was only minor difficulties regarding the fit of the rear super structure to the hull. The most challenge was the black plastic section of the hull.  The ships black hull sides is extruding up to the bridge-deck level. This "feature" was the most concerning of my building, because the "technique" of not paint the white color was here sat aside (Read how on the KASUGA MARU section)  -The black color was painted white with 3 thin layers of HUMBROL, Eamel, this was itself  not a problem, but it was harder to perfect paint all the windows blue after (without the process of using a rubber to remove the not needed blue) If you buy the Hospital version of the ship, you will find a all white hull. (But I don't know if the decals to the liner version will be included) And it's much easier to paint the needed section black!. I have used a combination of stretched spur and invisible tread to resemble the wires on the cranes and rigging - Not a easy task, but rewarding at the end as usual.

I have used all the parts from the kit without the plastic accommodation ladder. The most fancy "extra parts" made by me was more yellow mast booms and the numerous crane wheels atop for the booms, fog-horns, as well as more ladders and a few small davits etc.

It has not been my intension to scare others from building the beautiful model, I surely hope that my little ship will inspire others to go out and build the "Queen of the Pacific".


PE-sets I used:

GMM 1/700 IJN Merchant Ship 

Lion-Roar  IJN Hanging ladders 1/700

Tom's Model Works IJN 3 bar railing

Eduard 17 505 Japan Naval Figures 1/700



From the net: 

Photo Album of Museum ship and N.Y.K. Models by Tounnkai: http://picasaweb.google.co.jp/tounnkai/Hikawamaru

HIKAWA MARU Museum ship in Yokohama harbor:  http://www.ssmaritime.com/hikawamaru2.htm

The building time was approx 3.5 weeks.

July. 2008.

If you have any questions, remarks or things you will share, please don't hesitate to contact me.




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