THE HOKKAIDŌ.The geological reconnoissances and surveys of Yezo have been under the supervision of American engineers. Professors Blake and R. Pumpelly, who were engaged for one year by the bakufu, visited Yezo in 1862. (See "Across America and Asia," by R. Pumpelly, New York: Leypoldt & Holt.) They made a report, and introduced blasting and some other improvements. In 1871, Thomas Antisell, M.D., and, in 1873, Professor Benjamin J. Lyman, and Henry S. Munroe, E.M., all on the staff of the Department of the Development of Yezo, made examinations. From their reports, coal and iron sand seem to be abundant, well distributed, and of fair quality; gold and silver occur in small quantities; copper, zinc, and lead are found, but not in rich deposits. Petroleum issues in a few places. The result of their labors seems to show that Yezo is poor in mineral wealth, except iron and coal, in which it is very rich. The outcome of the highly creditable labors of these gentlemen will be a vast saving to the Japanese of money for useless mining. From the nature of the case, the limited time, and small number of the staff, the greater part of the interior of Yezo and the Kurile Islands is as yet unexplored. For maps, reports, etc., see "Reports of General Capron and his Foreign Assistants," Tōkiō, 1875. The undoubted wealth of the Hokkaidō is in timber, fisheries, furs, and agricultural products.
LAND AND AGRICULTURE.
THE exact area of Japan is not known, though computed at from 140,000 to 150,000 square miles, with a population of from 200 to 210 persons to a square mile. The number of acres under cultivation is about 9,000,000, or one-tenth of the entire area, supporting a population of 3½ persons to the acre. Not onefourth of the fertile area of Japan is yet under cultivation. Immense portions of good grass land and fertile valleys in Hondo, and almost the whole of Yezo, await the farmer's plow and seed, to return rich harvests. For centuries the agrarian art has been at a stand-still. Population and acreage have increased; but the crop, in bulk and quantity, remains the same. The state records of Iyéyasŭ's time give 29,000,000, koku as the yield of the empire. The present estimate of an average crop is still under 30,000,000 koku.
In spade-husbandry, the Japanese have little to learn. In stock-rearing, fruitgrowing, and the raising of hardier grains than rice, they need much instruction. On the best soils they raise two crops of wheat, rice, other grains, or root vege- tables. Fifty bushels to the acre is a good average, though much of the land never gives so large a return. The great need in Japanese farming is live stock. The people are slowly changing their diet of fish and vegetables, and becoming meat-eaters - a return to their ancient pre-Buddhistic habits. Material for the new food supply and for the raw material of shoes and clothing, must be provided for. At present, Japan imports 55,000,000 pounds of woolens and mixed goods, which in time she may dispense with. Her pastures are capable, judging from known data, of keeping 28,000,000 sheep, yielding an average weight of five pounds per fleece. Sheep farms, by fertilizing the soil, will prepare it for mulberry and tea plantations, thus increasing the supply of silk, and bringing in a train of new industries. Hitherto, human manure has been almost exclusively used, costing twelve dollars per acre.
The system of land tenure and taxation has differed in ancient and modern times. Theoretically, all the soil belongs to the mikado. Anciently, the land was divided into squares, which were subdivided into nine smaller squares, eight of which were cultivated, each by one man, and the ninth - reserved for the mikado - was worked by the nine collectively. The tan is still the unit of measurement. Each man held two tan, or half an acre. In time, this system fell out of use. Farmers in debt would sell their land to a richer one, and thus gradually the land became, in actuality, the people's by an ownership approaching fee simple. The land-owners of the present day have either bought their holdings or have reclaimed their lands; and no one has now the power of taking these away from them. The peasants, holding their land as absolute property, are easily governed; but as soon is an attempt is made to touch their land, redistribute it, or shift ownership, the passive peasants, who submit like children to financial or political despotism, rise in rebellion to violence and blood.
The taxes, which were very light under the ancient mikado's rule, increased greatly under the dual system, and under feudalism were extremely onerous. In Hidéyoshi's time, the Government tax was two-fifths of the crop; in the Tokugawa period, often fifty per cent. The landlord took twenty-five per cent. for rent; so that the farmer got but one-fourth of the crop for his labor, seeds, and profits. In a very bad year, the whole crop went for taxes; and the farmers then, becoming paupers, were fed from the public store by the "benevolence" (!) of the rulers. The system of land-holding and taxation varied in almost every daimiō's territory, often in villages near each other. The first attempt of the mikado's Government, in 1872, to correct the abuses of ages of feudalism, and to place the system of land taxes and tenure on one uniform national basis, led to many local insurrections. Bands of peasants in certain sections, jealous of local rights, wedded to long custom, knowing little, and suspecting much, of the policy of the rulers in the distant capital, resisted what was an act of beneficence and justice to millions of people in the whole empire. They were easily subdued.
The tax on the soil is the chief source of Government revenue. Four classes of land - good, medium, inferior, and bad - are reckoned. Paddy, or rice-land, is worth five times as much as arable land, and an investment in rice-land pays about eight per cent. per annum. The peasant's houses are rarely built in the fields, but on yashiki land, paying a slightly higher tax, and the rural population is thus clustered entirely in hamlets or villages.
The true wealth of Japan consists in her agricultural, and not in her mineral or manufacturing, resources. The Government and intelligent classes seem to be alive to this fact. Many of the samurai and nobles have begun farming. The Nai Mu Shō has begun a survey of the empire, with special relation to the resources and capabilities of the soil. A number of American gentlemen of experi- ence have been engaged as theoretical and practical farmers and stock-breeders. In Tōkiō, model and experimental farms, gardens of trial and acclimation, cattle-runs and plantations, and training schools and colleges have been established, in which the upper class of land-holders have taken much interest; nearly two hundred acres of many varieties of grass are being cultivated and tested; a large number of foreign works on stock-raising and agriculture have been translated into Japanese; two thousand cattle and ten thousand sheep have been introduced from the United States and Australia.
About eight hundred beeves are now slaughtered per week in Tōkiō to supply meat food, and six thousand cattle were sold to natives in Kobé in 1875. In the Kai Takŭ Shi, farms of two hundred and fifteen acres in Tōkiō, arranged under General Capron's superintendence, the excellent breeds of horses, sheep, cattle, and pigs, in spite of all drawbacks first felt from inexperienced keepers and disease, are thriving and multiplying. Over one hundred thousand young apple, pear, and other fruit trees, from American grafts, are set out, and yielding well. Improved implements are also made on the farm-smithy, from American models, by Japanese skilled hands. Besides making its own tools, the Nai Mu Shō distributes seeds, cuttings, models, etc., throughout the country, and the Kai Takŭ Shi, in the Hokkaidō. Model farms have also been established in Sapporo and Hakodaté.
It has been demonstrated that Yezo is capable of yielding good crops of hardy cereals and vegetables, that Japan is a country eminently adapted to support sheep and the finest breeds of cattle, and has a climate suited to develop to perfection cereals, leguminous plants, and artificial grasses, such as red and white clover, alfalas, and the rye family. Time and steady perseverance are, however, needed before national success is achieved. It is gratifying to know that, in the improvement of this mother of all arts, Americans have been the pioneers, and have done so much and so well. Next to the uprooting of superstition and gross paganism by pure religion and education, there is nothing more important for Japan than the development of her virgin land and the improvement of her ancient agricultural resources. For detailed information, see The Japan Mail of November 23d, and December 5th, 1874; F. O. Adams "History of Japan," vol. ii., chap. xii.; and "Reports of General Capron and his Foreign Assistants," Tōkiō, 1875.