Summer grasses,
all that remains of great soldiers'
imperial dreams.

After almost a year of telling myself that I wasn't going to get sucked into the world of Ronin, I've broken my own cardinal rule and bought into a new game system and a new historical period... and I love it!
Greatly inspired by Mr. Dampfpanzerwagon and the way he manages to create beautiful, complete settings for his games (games which much like my own, appear to be few and far between) I decided that I need to follow a similar approach and craft a whole world for some samurai action- and further inspired by (the frankly essential for everyone to watch) The Seven Samurai, I came to the obvious conclusion that this world needed to be a rural hamlet of subsistence farmers and their houses.

you might remember my diorama from this time last year...

...well it failed to serve its purpose of curing my sengoku urges (bad diorama! You were supposed to stop me buying shiny new models), it merely allowed me to put them on hold for a short while, while at the back of my mind things were ticking along and plans were forming.
A quick spot of late night shopping later and I found myself in possession of this little bundle:

then paired up with a few choice books from my collection of Japanese titles I was ready to start working some things out. (The two titles on ghosts in Ukiyo-e and Yokai give a little hint at what I hope will eventually materialise in my games)

Anyway, skip forward a few days and we get to the stuff you really want to see, models!
To help me work out sizes and basic plans for my houses, I made a proof of concept model, a prototype of what was to come, quickly bashed together from foamboard and balsa wood, followed by a quick paintjob and I had what I think is a pretty decent starting point:

Taking into account that my models were going to be based on Games Workshop round bases, I needed my buildings to be slightly taller than they really should be, but I don't have a problem with that- to be quite honest, I'm more interested in the world I'm going to create than the people who will occupy it, so playing a little fast and loose with scale isn't going to hurt me any.

After making my prototype, I set about making a real model house- I left the roof off at this stage, deciding that if I was going to mould and cast duplicates, then an easy way of making the buildings look less like copies of each other would be to make the roofs different on each one- since the main view of the buildings will always be from above, a gamer's eye view rather than a model's eye view.

A splosh of silicon later and I have myself a mould:

A drizzle of polyurethane and a bit of waiting gave me my first three roofless buildings ready for cleaning up and individualising:

Next step will be to sand the bases of each building level, decide on how many will make up my settlement (probably 7-8) and start making the board that they'll be based on- this is going to be a non-modular board, everything will be in place, blended into its surroundings and immovable, ready for toy soldiers to get angry over at any point.
Let's finish in the same manner that I started, with a spot of poetry to set the mood, this time from the priest Saigyo:

At the roadside,
Where a clear stream bubbles
In the shade of the willows,
"just for a while," I said,
And still have not gone.