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- Farmers of Forty Centuries - 5/48 -


lake. The roofs of the houses here are typical of the neat, careful thatching with rice straw, very generally adopted in place of tile for the country villages throughout much of Japan. The shops and stores, open full width directly upon the street, are filled to overflowing, as seen in Fig. 9 and in Fig. 22.

In the canalized regions of China the country villages crowd both banks of a canal, as is the case in Fig. 10. Here, too, often is a single street and it very narrow, very crowded and very busy. Stone steps lead from the houses down into the water where clothing, vegetables, rice and what not are conveniently washed. In this particular village two rows of houses stand on one side of the canal separated by a very narrow street, and a single row on the other. Between the bridge where the camera was exposed and one barely discernible in the background, crossing the canal a third of a mile distant, we counted upon one side, walking along the narrow street, eighty houses each with its family, usually of three generations and often of four. Thus in the narrow strip, 154 feet broad, including 16 feet of street and 30 feet of canal, with its three lines of houses. lived no less than 240 families and more than 1200 and probably nearer 2000 people.

When we turn to the crowding of fields in the country nothing except seeing can tell so forcibly the fact as such landscapes as those of Figs. 11, 12 and 13, one in Japan, one in Korea and one in China, not far from Nanking, looking from the hills across the fields to the broad Yangtse kiang, barely discernible as a band of light along the horizon.

The average area of the rice field in Japan is less than five square rods and that of her upland fields only about twenty. In the case of the rice fields the small size is necessitated partly by the requirement of holding water on the sloping sides of the valley, as seen in Fig. 11. These small areas do not represent the amount of land worked by one family, the average for Japan being more nearly 2.5 acres. But the lands worked by one family are seldom contiguous, they may even be widely scattered and very often rented.

The people generally live in villages, going often considerable distances to their work. Recognizing the great disadvantage of scattered holdings broken into such small areas, the Japanese Government has passed laws for the adjustment of farm lands which have been in force since 1900. It provides for the exchange of lands; for changing boundaries; for changing or abolishing roads, embankments, ridges or canals and for alterations in irrigation and drainage which would ensure larger areas with channels and roads straightened, made less numerous and less wasteful of time, labor and land. Up to 1907 Japan had issued permits for the readjustment of over 240,000 acres, and Fig. 14 is a landscape in one of these readjusted districts. To provide capable experts for planning and supervising these changes the Government in 1905 intrusted the training of men to the higher agricultural school belonging to the Dai Nippon Agricultural Association and since 1906 the Agricultural College and the Kogyokusha have undertaken the same task and now there are men sufficient to push the work as rapidly as desired.

It may be remembered, too, as showing how, along other fundamental lines, Japan is taking effective steps to improve the condition of her people, that she already has her Imperial highways extending from one province to another; her prefectural roads which connect the cities and villages within the prefecture; and those more local which serve the farms and villages. Each of the three systems of roads is maintained by a specific tax levied for the purpose which is expended under proper supervision, a designated section of road being kept in repair through the year by a specially appointed crew, as is the practice in railroad maintenance. The result is, Japan has roads maintained in excellent condition, always narrow, sacrificing the minimum of land, and everywhere without fences.

How the fields are crowded with crops and all available land is made to do full duty in these old, long-tilled countries is evident in Fig. 15 where even the narrow dividing ridges but a foot wide, which retain the water on the rice paddies, are bearing a heavy crop of soy beans; and where may be seen the narrow pear orchard standing on the very slightest rise of ground, not a foot above the water all around, which could better be left in grading the paddies to proper level.

How closely the ground itself may be crowded with plants is seen in Fig. 16, where a young peach orchard, whose tree tops were six feet through, planted in rows twenty-two feet apart, had also ten rows of cabbage, two rows of large windsor beans and a row of garden peas. Thirteen rows of vegetables in 22 feet, all luxuriant and strong, and note the judgment shown in placing the tallest plants, needing the most sun, in the center between the trees.

But these old people, used to crowding and to being crowded, and long ago capable of making four blades of grass grow where Nature grew but one, have also learned how to double the acreage where a crop needs more elbow than it does standing room, as seen in Fig. 17. This man's garden had an area of but 63 by 68 feet and two square rods of this was held sacred to the family grave mound, and yet his statement of yields, number of crops and prices made his earning $100 a year on less than one-tenth of an acre.

His crop of cucumbers on less than .06 of an acre would bring him $20. He had already sold $5 worth of greens and a second crop would follow the cucumbers. He had just irrigated his garden from an adjoining canal, using a foot-power pump, and stated that until it rained he would repeat the watering once per week. It was his wife who stood in the garden and, although wearing trousers, her dress showed full regard for modesty.

But crowding crops more closely in the field not only requires higher feeding to bring greater returns, but also relatively greater care, closer watchfulness in a hundred ways and a patience far beyond American measure; and so, before the crowding of the crops in the field and along with it, there came to these very old farmers a crowding of the grey matter in the brain with the evolution of effective texture. This is shown in his fields which crowd the landscape. It is seen in the crops which crowd his fields. You see it in the old man's face, Fig. 18, standing opposite his compeer, Prince Ching, Fig. 19, each clad in winter dress which is the embodiment of conversation, retaining the fires of the body for its own needs, to release the growth on mountain sides for other uses. And when one realizes how, nearly to the extreme limits, conservation along all important lines is being practiced as an inherited instinct, there need be no surprise when one reflects that the two men, one as feeder and the other as leader, are standing in the fore of a body of four hundred millions of people who have marched as a nation through perhaps forty centuries, and who now, in the light and great promise of unfolding science have their faces set toward a still more hopeful and longer future.

On February 21st the Tosa Maru left Yokohama for Kobe at schedule time on the tick of the watch, as she had done from Seattle. All Japanese steamers appear to be moved with the promptness of a railway train. On reaching Kobe we transferred to the Yamaguchi Maru which sailed the following morning, to shorten the time of reaching Shanghai. This left but an afternoon for a trip into the country between Kobe and Osaka, where we found, if possible, even higher and more intensive culture practices than on the Tokyo plain, there being less land not carrying a winter crop. And Fig. 20 shows how closely the crops crowd the houses and shops. Here were very many cement lined cisterns or sheltered reservoirs for collecting manures and preparing fertilizers and the appearance of both soil and crops showed in a marked manner to what advantage. We passed a garden of nearly an acre entirely devoted to English violets just coming into full bloom. They were grown in long parallel east and west beds about three feet wide. On the north edge of each bed was erected a rice-straw screen four feet high which inclined to the south, overhanging the bed at an angle of some thirty-five degrees, thus forming a sort of bake-oven tent which reflected the sun, broke the force of the wind and checked the loss of heat absorbed by the soil.

The voyage from Kobe to Moji was made between 10 in the morning, February 24th, and 5 .30 P. M. of February 25th over a quiet sea with an enjoyable ride. Being fogbound during the night gave us the whole of Japan's beautiful Inland Sea, enchanting beyond measure, in all its near and distant beauty but which no pen, no brush, no camera may attempt. Only the eye can convey. Before reaching harbor the tide had been rising and the strait separating Honshu from Kyushu island was running like a mighty swirling river between Moji and Shimonoseki, dangerous to attempt in the dark, so we waited until morning.

There was cargo to take on board and the steamer must coal. No sooner had the anchor dropped and the steamer swung into the current than lighters came alongside with out-going freight. The small, strong, agile Japanese stevedores had this task completed by 8:30 P. M. and when we returned to the deck after supper another scene was on. The cargo lighters had gone and four large barges bearing 250 tons of coal had taken their places on opposite sides of the steamer, each illuminated with buckets of blazing coal or by burning conical heaps on the surface. From the bottom of these pits in the darkness the illumination suggested huge decapitated ant heaps in the wildest frenzy, for the coal seemed covered and there was hurry in every direction. Men and women, boys and girls, bending to their tasks, were filling shallow saucer-shaped baskets with coal and stacking them eight to ten high in a semi-circle, like coin for delivery. Rising out of these pits sixteen feet up the side of the steamer and along her deck to the chutes leading to her bunkers were what seemed four endless human chains, in service the prototype of our modern conveyors, but here each link animated by its own power. Up these conveyors the loaded buckets passed, one following another at the rate of 40 to 60 per minute, to return empty by the descending line, and over the four chains one hundred tons per hour, for 250 tons of coal passed to the bunkers in two and a half hours. Both men and women stood in the line and at the upper turn of one of these, emptying the buckets down the chute, was a mother with her two-year-old child in the sling on back, where it rocked and swayed to and fro, happy the entire time. It was often necessary for the mother to adjust her baby in the sling whenever it was leaning uncomfortably too far to one side or the other, but she did it skillfully, always with a shrug of the shoulders, for both hands were full. The mother looked strong, was apparently accepting her lot as a matter of course and often, with a smile, turned her face to the child, who patted it and played with her ears and hair. Probably her husband was doing his part in a more strenuous place in the chain and neither had time to be troubled with affinities for it was 10:30 P. M. when the baskets stopped, and somewhere no doubt there was a home to be reached and perhaps supper to get. Shall we be able, when our numbers have vastly increased, to permit all needful earnings to be acquired in a better way?

We left Moji in the early morning and late in the evening of the same day entered the beautiful harbor of Nagasaki, all on board waiting until morning for a launch to go ashore. We were to sail again at noon so available time for observation was short and we set out in a ricksha at once for our first near view of terraced


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