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History Koku (石)

Koku (石) – an amount of rice equal to the amount one man eats in a year; used in feudal times as a measurement of income and of wealth.

The koku (石) is a Chinese-based Japanese unit of volume. 1 koku is equivalent to 10 to (斗) or approximately 180 litres (40 imp gal; 48 US gal), or about 150 kilograms (330 lb). It converts, in turn, to 100 shō and 1000 gō. One gō is the volume of the "rice cup", the plastic measuring cup that is supplied with commercial Japanese rice cookers. The koku in Japan was typically used as a dry measure. The amount of rice production measured in koku was the metric by which the magnitude of a feudal domain (han) was evaluated. A feudal lord was only considered daimyō class when his domain amounted to at least 10,000 koku. As a rule of thumb, one koku was considered a sufficient quantity of rice to feed one person for one year. The Chinese equivalent or cognate unit for capacity is the shi or dan (Chinese: 石; pinyin: shí, dàn; Wade–Giles: shih, tan also known as hu (斛; hú; hu), now approximately 103 litres but historically about 59.44 litres (13.07 imp gal; 15.70 US gal).

The exact modern koku is calculated to be 180.39 litres, 100 times the capacity of a modern shō. This modern koku is essentially defined to be the same as the koku from the Edo period (1600–1868),[e] namely 100 times the shō equal to 64827 cubic bu in the traditional shakkanhō measuring system. When the 1891 Japanese Weights and Measures Act was promulgated, it defined the shō unit as the capacity of the standard kyo-masu of 64827 cubic bu. The same act also defined the shaku length as 10⁄33 metre. The metric equivalent of the modern shō is 2401⁄1331 litres. The modern koku is therefore 240,100⁄1331 litres or 180.39 litres.

The modern shaku defined here is set to equal the so-called setchū-shaku (setchū-jaku or "compromise shaku"),[22] measuring 302.97 mm, a middle-ground value between two different kane-jaku standards. A researcher has pointed out that the (shin) kyō-masu cups ought to have used take-jaku which were 0.2% longer. However, the actual measuring cups in use did not quite attain the take shaku metric, and when the Japanese Ministry of Finance collected actual samples of masu from the masu-za (measuring-cup guilds) of both eastern and western Japan, they found that the measurements were close to the average of take-jaku and kane-jaku.


History  Kokudaka

The kokudaka (石高) was the tax base calculated in rice. It was an estimate of the annual yield of farmland measured in koku of unpolished rice and the basis of and taxes throughout the Edo Period (1600-1868). The kokudaka system was introduced nationwide by Toyotomi Hideyoshi in the course of his...

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