chapter  5
19 Pages

THE COUNTRY

FARMER AND SETTING Japan, by the very nature of her soil which is arable over so small an area of her islands, cannot farm on a very large scale. Therefore, the system of small-holdings, adopted in the seventh century remained the basis of land development throughout Japanese history. Even if the land belonged to shôen, or to great landowners, the farmer cultivated the small plot allotted to him as he pleased, since the kind of farming he undertook then was not included in any general scheme of production. Farmers, working the soil for generations, considered themselves the rightful owners of the land, at the same time paying taxes to an overlord. Whether this was a kuge living in Kyôto or a bakufu samurai, made little difference to their way of living; in either case they were subject to taxes and duties.