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A History of the Japanese People by F. Brinkley

And the tan comprised 360 tsubo


FINANCE

style="text-align: justify;">Cultivated land (koden) was the great source of official revenue. The area under rice--the principal staple of production--in the middle of the fifteenth century was about a million of cho,* or two and a half million acres; and this was owned by the Court, the Court nobles, the military magnates, the temples, and the shrines. From an uncertain date, but probably the close of the Kamakura Bakufu, the area of a domain ceased to be calculated in terms of cho and tan and was expressed in kwan (one thousand cash, or mori). The use of the kwanior this purpose had reference to the military service leviable upon the land. Thus, when land of one hundred kwan-mon was mentioned, an area capable of supporting military service valued at one hundred kwan-mon was understood. The calculation was very simple: one tsubo corresponded to one mon, so that one kwan-mon represented one thousand tsubo for the purposes of this assessment.**

*The cho was equal to 10 tan, and the tan comprised 360 tsubo, the tsubo being a square of 6 feet side. At present the area under cultivation is some 3 millions of cho (7.5 millions of acres).

**In the Ashikaga era the unit of currency may be said to have been the copper cash of China--called Eiraku-sen after the name (Chinese, Yunglo) of the Chinese year period when it was issued. Gold and silver coins were also in use; namely, the gold ryo, which was equivalent to 10

silver ryo; but their circulation was comparatively small. The gold ryo was equal to 2000 mon of copper coins, and as 100 mon purchased 1 to (one-tenth part of a koku) of rice, it follows that the gold ryo represented 2 koku, or 30 yen of modern currency, the silver ryo representing 3 yen (1 yen=2 shillings-50 cents). It follows also that 10 strings of cash (one kwan) were worth a koku of rice, or 15 yen. As for silk piece-goods, 1 roll (hiki = 48 yards) of the best kind was worth 45 yen, and the second and third-class kinds ranged from 33 to 22.5 yen. Finally, in the year 1498, the records show that the daily wage of a labourer was some 16 sen of modern money (about 4 pence or 8 cents).

From various documents it appears that the three grades of land--best, medium, and inferior--were taxed at the rate of sixty, forty, and thirty per cent., respectively, of the yield. In other words, the average land-tax was forty per cent, of the yield--called shi-ko roku-min--or four parts to the Government and six to the farmer. If we consider the rates between the current price of land and the tax, there is a record, dated 1418, which shows that the tax levied by a temple--Myoko-ji--was twenty per cent, of the market price of the land. But it would seem that the ratio in the case of Government taxation was much smaller, being only one and a half per cent, of the market value. There were, however, other imposts, which, though not accurately stated, must have brought the land-tax to much more than forty per cent, of the yield.

Turning to the Imperial Court, we find it supported by domains hereditarily held; by contributions from the seizei (expediency taxes, that is to say, taxes set aside for extraordinary State requirements); by occasional presents, and by revenues from kugoden (private Imperial land). The Court nobles had their own domains, usually small. All these estates, those of the Crown, of princes, and of Court nobles, were subject to a system called hansai. That is to say, one-half of their revenues were leviable for military purposes. Originally this impost was understood to be a loan to the Bakufu, but ultimately it came to be regarded as a normal levy, though its practical effect was to reduce the revenue from such domains by one-half. Moreover, as the arrogance of the military magnates in the provinces grew more insistent, and as the Bakufu's ability to oppose them became less effective, the domain of the Court nobles suffered frequent encroachments.


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