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Farming, like almost everything in that land of miniatures, is on a limited scale, as each man has only a very small holding. “There is no farm in Japan; there are only gardens ” (Uchimura). Even a "petty farmer” of our Northwest would ridicule the extremely insignificant farms of the Japanese, who, in turn, would be astounded at the prodigious domains of a Dalrymple. A careful investigator, Dr. Karl Rathgen, has summed up the situation as follows: "In Japan are to be found only small holdings. A farm of five chõl (twelve acres) is considered very large. As a rule the Japanese farmer is without hired labor and without cattle. The family alone cultivates the farm, which, however, is so small that a large share of the available labor can be devoted to other purposes besides farming, such as the production of silk, indigo, tobacco. The average holding for the whole of Japan (excluding the Hokkaido) for each agricultural family is 8.3 tan1 (about two acres), varying from a maximum of 17.6 tan in the prefecture of Aomori to a minimum of 5.3 tan in the prefecture of Wakayama. “There are no large landed proprietors in Japan.”
A Japanese farm is so insignificant, partly because a Japanese farmer has only a very small capital, and needs only a slight income to support life. It has been estimated that a man so fortunate as to own a farm of five chol obtains therefrom an annual income of 100 or 120 yen. And yet the Japanese
1 See tables of measurement and coinage, in Appendix.
farmers are very careful and thoroughly understand their business. “In spade-husbandry,” says Dr. Griffis, “they have little to learn”; but “in stockraising, fruit-growing, and the raising of hardier grains than rice, they need much instruction.”1
A Japanese farmer is hard-working, industrious, stolid, conservative, and yet, by reason of his fatalistic and stoical notions, in a way happy and contented. “Left to the soil to till it, to live and die upon it, the Japanese farmer has remained the same,
with his horizon bounded by his rice-fields, his water-courses, or the timbered hills, his intellect laid away for safe-keeping in the priest's hands, caring little who rules him, unless he is taxed beyond the power of flesh and blood to bear.” He is, however, more than ordinarily interested in taxation, for the land-tax of three and one-third per cent of the assessed value of the land amounts to about half the national revenue, and is no inconsiderable part of the state, county, town, and village taxes. A reduction to two and one-half per cent is now vigorously discussed in the press; a bill to that effect, however, has not yet succeeded in passing the Imperial Diet.2
i See “The Yankees of the East” (Curtis), chap. xiii.
2 The “Shakai Zasshi” has the following on the decrease of farmers : The causes of the phenomenon, briefly stated, are as below: (1) The current methods of farming require no intelligence in the farmer. He works very much like an animal in a purely mechanical fashion. Hence lads with minds are attracted to trade and industry. (2) The universality of education has increased the number of intelligent men among the lower classes, and this has made farmers discontented with their lot. (3) City life offers many attractions to active-minded persons; and hence in Japan, as 1 See tables in Appendix. 2 See Appendix. 8 See tables of weights and measures in Appendix.
The principal products of the Japanese farms are rice, barley, wheat, millet, maize, beans, peas, potatoes (Irish and sweet), turnips, carrots, melons, eggplants, buckwheat, onions, beets, and a large white bitter radish (daikon). A very good average yield is fifty bushels to an acre.
The entire annual production of rice varies each year, but averages about 40,000,000 koku ;and the annual exportation of rice runs from about 3,500,000 yen to over 10,000,000 yen.
The list of fruits 2 and nuts grown in Japan includes pears, peaches, oranges, figs, persimmons, grapes, plums, loquats, apricots, strawberries, bananas, apples, peanuts, chestnuts, etc.
Among other important Japanese productions must be mentioned, of course, tea, tobacco, and mulberry trees. Of these the last is, perhaps, indigenous; but the other two are importations in their origin. The culture of tea is most extensively carried on in the middle and southern districts. The annual production is now about 8,000,000 kwan ; 3 the annual export trade is valued at about 8,000,000 yen. The price of tea runs from five cents to six dollars per pound, of which the last is raised at Uji, near Kyoto. The Japanese are a tea-drinking people; they use that beverage at meals and between meals, at all in the Western world, there has been a steady flow of country people towards the towns. The statistics published on this matter show, that, whereas in 1889 the proportion of townspeople to the total number of inhabitants ras 15 in every 100 persons, in 1898 it has risen to 18. This accounts for the scarcity of farm labor, which has constantly been complained of in recent years. — Japan Mail.
times and in all places. It is true that they drink it from a very small cup, which holds about two tablespoonfuls, but they drink, as we are told to pray, “without ceasing." Hot water is kept ever ready for making tea, which is sipped every few minutes, and is always served, with cake or confectionery, to visitors.1
Tobacco was introduced into Japan by the Portuguese, but its use was at first strictly prohibited. The practice of smoking, however, rapidly spread until it became well-nigh a universal custom, not even restricted to the male sex. The Lilliputian pipe would seem to indicate that only a limited amount of the weed is used; but smoking, like tea-drinking, is practised "early and often.” The Japanese tobacco is said to be "remarkable for its mildness and dryness."
The silk industry is the most important in relation to Japan's foreign trade, and is on the increase. Silk is sent away to American and European markets chiefly in its raw state, but is also manufactured into handkerchiefs, etc. The exports of silk for the year 1898 amounted to about $31,000,000, or about onefifth of the entire export trade. It would, of course, be beyond the limits of this chapter to enter into the description of the details of sericulture; it may be sufficient here to state that only the stolid patience of Orientals can well endure the slow, tedious, and painstaking process of feeding the silkworms. 2
i Scidmore's “ Jinrikisha Days in Japan," chap. XXXV., and Gribble's paper in Transactions Asiatic Society of Japan, vol. xii.
2 Scidmore's “ Jinrikisha Days in Japan," chaps. xxvi., xxvii.
Cotton-spinning is a comparatively new industry in Japan, but is growing rapidly. Cotton is, of course, the principal material for the clothing of the common people, who cannot afford silk robes. But Japan, though raising a great deal of cotton, cannot supply the demand, and imports large quantities from India and America. It is only within a short time that cotton-spinning by machinery has become a Japanese industry; formerly all the yarn was spun by hand; but in 1900 there were 76 cotton-mills in Japan. Some are very small concerns; but in Osaka, Nagoya, and Tōkyō there are comparatively large and flourishing mills. Ordinary workmen receive from 12 to 20 sen a day; skilled laborers make from 30 to 40 sen; girls earn from 10 to 20 sen, and children only a few sen per day; but the stockholders receive dividends of from 10 to 20 per cent per annum.
Since Japan acquired Formosa from China, she has had added to her resources another very important and valuable product, in which she possesses practically a monopoly of the world's market and a supply supposed to be sufficient for the demands of the whole world for this entire century. It has been estimated, for instance, that the area of interior districts in which the camphor tree is found will reach over 1,500 miles. The camphor business of Japan in Formosa is in the hands of a British firm, to whom, as highest bidder, the government let out its monopoly for a fixed term of years.
1 See Davidson's “ Island of Formosa.”