March 10, 2013

Units Associated with Rice in Japan, Part II/日本の米に関する単位、パート2

Japan is a metric country, and rice is sold in 30 kg brown paper bags, as well as in 10, 5, 3, and 2 kg plastic bags, but in cooking, we still use the unit of go.  Other units associated with rice include sho, to, and koku.  These units are part of the Shakkan-ho, which derives from the Chinese units of measurement.

10 go = 1 sho
10 sho = 1 to
10 to = 1 koku
Thus, 1000 go = 1 koku

1 koku of rice (150 kg) was the amount consumed by a single person in one year.  Thus, 1 go of rice (150 g) was the amount consumed by a single person for one meal (1 go per meal x 3 meals per day x 365 days = 1,095 go).

Note:  Today, the annual per-capita consumption of rice is around 60 kg.  In 1962, about 50 years ago, it was 118 kg.

日本はメートル法を採用しており、お米は30 kgの茶色の紙袋や、10、2、3、2 kgのビニール袋で売られていますが、調理の際には、いまだに合という単位を使っています。お米に関する他の単位としては、升(しょう)、斗(と)、(こく)があります。これらの単位は尺貫法の一部で、尺貫法は中国の市制に由来します。

10合 = 1升
10升 = 1斗
10斗 = 1石
よって、1000合 = 1石

1石のお米(150 kg)は、一人が一年で消費する量でした。よって、1合のお米(150 g)は一人が一食で消費する量です(一食当たり1合 x 一日当たり3食 x 365日 = 1,095合).

注: 今では、一人当たりのお米の年間消費量は60 kgほどです。約50年前、1962年では118 kgでした。

Besides the units of volume, units of area are also associated with rice.  I was planning to write:  At the time of the Taika Reforms, 1 tan was decided to be an area needed to produce 1 koku of rice.  I later learned that this was not a well established fact, so let me just say that in ancient times, 1 tan was decided to be an area needed to produce 1 koku of rice.

1 tan = 991.74 m²
1 tan = 10 se
In ancient times,
1 tan = 360 tsubo (bu)
But, due to the nationwide land survey (Taiko Kenchi) started in 1582 by Toyotomi Hideyoshi, tsubo (bu) was changed as follows:
1 tan = 300 tsubo (bu)

Roughly, 1 tsubo is an area needed to produce rice consumed by a single person a day (3 go = 3 x 150 = 450 g).
1 tsubo = 3.3 m2 (1.818 m square)
The unit of tsubo is still widely used to express the area of a land or building.

Note:  Today, around 500 kg of rice can be produced from 1 tan of rice paddy.


1反 = 991.74 m²
1反 = 10畝
1反 = 360坪(歩)
1反 = 300坪(歩)

大まかに言って、1坪は一人が一日に食べるお米(3合 = 3 x 150 = 450 g)を作るのに必要な面積です。
1坪 = 3.3 m2(1.818 m四方)

注: 現在では、一反の田んぼからお米が約500 kg収穫できます。


Fräulein Trude said...

I buy about 1.5 kg rice every month or 750 g per person. Quite a difference.

Hiroyuki said...

Kiki: Rice is Japan's staple, although its status as the staple is threatened by bread. (A shocking news item two years ago was that the Japanese spent more money on bread than rice.)

We still think of rice in terms of kilograms, whereas we think of meat in terms of grams.

If I haven't had any rice in a day, I will feel that I missed something at the end of the day. I think that a majority of the Japanese will think the same way.

Sissi said...

Very interesting. Do you think that nowadays many Japanese still consume 450 g of rice a day? (Apart from farmers and manual workers of course).
Since we became addicted to the Yumenishiki rice, we have been buying 5 kg every two months (of course my husband eats much more than me!), but I have never seen Europeans buying 5 kg bags of rice.
Oh, and apart from Yumenishiki, I buy about 1 kg of yasmin (Thai) rice every month for Thai and Indian dishes.
It's got nothing to do with rice measures, but I have recently seen a beautiful Japanese film Kamome Shokudo. I really liked it (it was of course about food...). Have you ever heard about it?
This morning I have also finished reading a Japanese book (it's not about food but food is mentioned hundreds of times, which is a pleasure for such a Japanese food fan like me). The title is Sensei no kaban, written by Kawakami Hiromi. A very moving book.

Fräulein Trude said...

Sissi: Sensei no kaban - read it a few years ago and remember the description of the Izakaya dates very well. This book makes hungry and curious about Japan too. One of my favorite chapters is the mushroom hunting story. It is a pure hearted, slow moving romance without any ups and cooking on very very low heat - the end a little bit sad. Read a korean book, author Jo Kyung Ran, about a woman (chief) owning a cooking school. Every chapter filled with thoughts about dishes and ingredients, past and presence and the ex-lover / cheating man. In the end she killed the new woman of her man and served her to her ex. Title in german Feine Kost which means delicacy, don't know the english title. Totally different but what a story, developing like a greek tragedy - makes hungry too (laugh).

Hiroyuki said...

Sissi (and Kiki): Kamome Shokudo was mentioned by okasan, but I haven't seen it. As for the book, I haven't heard of it.

As I said in the post, the annual per-capita consumption is around 60 kg, which translates into 164 g per day and 54 g per meal. As for me, I think I consume about 200 g of rice per day, that is, 73 kg a year.

Things were very much different in the 30s of Showa (1955-1964), when I was a child. We had lots and lots of rice (2-3 bowls) with just a small amount of okazu (pickles, tsukudani, raw eggs, nori, etc.), plus miso soup. We had more fish than meat, bananas were a delicacy, sushi was something to eat on a very special day, so was cake (short cake with a strawberry on top).

Sissi said...

Kiki, I'm glad you have also liked the story (it's a bit sad indeed...). Thank you for the advice. I will look for this book. I love Korean cuisine too, so it will certainly make me hungry too :-)
Hiroyuki, I was just wondering if there are still some people who consume as much rice... apart from sumo wrestlers maybe ;-) I understand that 60 kg is an average amount.

okasan said...

I just finished watching a food related movie, Supermarket Woman スーパーの女。Although it is not about cooking but knowing how supermarket is run in Japan. The story is about a regular housewife with 'housewife' wisdom who end up helping an old school friend with his run down supermarket against the greedy competitor. It is interesting to see how the buyer's point of view vs store's point of view. I found a site where you can watch this movie.


Hiroyuki said...

okasan: Thanks for the link. I have just finished watching part 1 of the movie. I know the movie, but I haven't seen it. I think I'll comment on the movie after I finish watching it.