Wednesday, 11 July 2012

A Beautiful Rice Storehouse

This is the building of the official rice storehouse of the Marugame Domain (Marugame han Goyogura). The storehouse was given by Sumio Kurose and comes from Marugame City in Kagawa Prefecture to Shikoku Mura. A local, I might add as Shikoku Mura is in the Kagawa Prefecture. ^^

Just looking at the storehouse (seriously, it looks too nice to be "just" a store!), one can judge the importance of this official building. The 48 feet long and 24 feet wide building stands on a double layered stone foundation called "nunoishi". The crosshatch tile design extending halfway up the walls is known as "namako" or fish roe tiling and acts as a rather decorative security measure. The gabled roof is covered with expensive (note the expensive mentioned here) heavy tiles; "hongawara" and provides further evidence of the official status of the building. Official, stately and expensive.

It is 200 years old (again, like seriously!); the building also appears in a religious painting of the Edo period which shows pilgrims visiting Shikoku's famous Kompira Shrine.

During the Edo or Tokugawa period (1600 - 1867) all of Japan was divided into a series of domain (han), ruled by feudal lords (daimyo) who were appointed by the Shogun. The economy was agragian and that basically meant that the power and wealth of a domain rested on the ability to produce rice. 

Production was figured in units called koku (about 5 bushels), which is the amount of rice needed to feed one person for a year. The daimyo paid his samurai retainers and servants with koku of rice and not money. You can imagine how important it was for the safe storage of the rice crop for the daimyo (and his staff) so the storehouse is as beautiful in appearance as well as a place secure to keep the daimyo's wealth.

13 comments:

  1. Very interesting! I guess rice would have been like gold coins in those days and very important in terms of wealth and the ability to support your people.

    Japan Australia

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    1. You can have all the gold you want, but if you can't feed your people, the gold can be rather meaningless, don't you think? ;p

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  2. This is a storehouse? It's too beautiful! May I please live here instead? It even has enough space for all my books! :D

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    1. Despite its nice exterior, did you notice that there aren't any windows there! Poor ventilation! @.@

      But I guess it'll do for your book. Are you sure the space is enough? ^^

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    2. No windows? o_0 May I change my mind? It can be a storehouse for ... fishing equipment! ^^ Books need ventilation too, otherwise they get musty and grungy.

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  3. Nice storehouses. As you know, there are many storehouses in Kawagoe but the design is different from ours.

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    Replies
    1. Different designs highlights the difference in each area's architecture and that's nice. :)

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  4. hi! lina. You always teach me about Japanese things Much thanks.

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    1. Likewise. You enabled me to experience Japan's nature. :)

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  5. Sounds like back in those days rice was more important than money to workers.

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    Replies
    1. Rice is food after all.

      And I think rice can be used to pay for other necessities.

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  6. I'm so impressed by what people from the past have done!

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    Replies
    1. Me too!

      But the life way back then can be rather hard.

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