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Japanese Measurements

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Premodern Japanese measurements consisted of the following:

Contents

Length

Metric Equivalents

  • 1 Rin (厘) = .0303 cm
  • 1 Sun (寸) = 3.03 cm
  • 1 Ata (咫) = 18 cm
  • 1 Shaku (尺) = 30.3 cm
  • 1 Ken (間) = 1.8182 m[1]
  • 1 (丈) = 3.03 m
  • 1 Chô (町) = 109.9 m
  • 1 Ri (里) = 3,927 m[2]
  • 1 Traditional Ri (里) = 654.6 m[2]

Unit Conversions

  • 1 Shaku (尺) = 10 sun (寸)
  • 1 (丈) = 10 shaku (尺)
  • 1 Ken (間) = 6 shaku (尺)
  • 1 Chô (町) = 60 ken (間)
  • 1 Ri (里) = 36 chô (町)[2]
  • 1 Traditional Ri (里) = 6 chô (町)[2]

Area

Metric Equivalents

  • 1 (合) = 33cm2
  • 1 Bu (歩) = 1 Tsubo (坪) = 3.306m2
  • 1 Se (畝) = 99.17m2
  • 1 Tan (反・段) = 991.7m2[3]
  • 1 Chô (町) = 9.917km2[3]

Unit Conversions

  • 1 Bu (歩) = 1 tsubo (坪) = 10 (合) = a 1 ken x 1 ken square = 2 tatami mats placed together[4]
  • 1 Se (畝) = 30 bu (歩) = 30 tsubo (坪)
  • 1 Tan (反・段) = 10 se (畝)[3]
  • 1 Chô (町) = 10 tan (反・段)[3]

Weight

Metric Equivalents

  • 1 Momme (匁) = 3.75g
  • 1 Kin (斤) = 600g[5]
  • 1 Kan (貫) = 3.75kg

Unit Conversions

  • 1 Kin (斤) = 160 momme (匁)
  • 1 Kan (貫) = 1000 momme (匁)
  • 1 Tan (担) = 100 kin (斤)[6]

Volume

Metric Equivalents

  • 1 (合) = 180ml
  • 1 Shô or Masu (升) = 1.804 liters
  • 1 To (斗) = 18.04 liters
  • 1 Koku (石) = 180.4 liters

Unit Conversions

  • 1 Shô or Masu (升) = 10 (合)
  • 1 To (斗) = 10 shô or masu (升)
  • 1 Hyô (俵) = 1 "bale" or "bag" of rice = 4 to (斗)
  • 1 Koku (石) = 10 to (斗) = 2.5 hyô (俵)

References & Notes

  • Lu, David. Japan: A Documentary History. Vol. 1. M.E. Sharpe, 2005. Appendix, pI.
  1. One ken, sometimes translated as one "bay," was the traditional standard amount of space between a building's pillars. The length of a building is often given in ken; the famous Sanjûsangendô, or "Thirty-Three Bays Hall," in Kyoto indeed has thirty-four pillars along its side, resulting in a hall thirty-three "bays" in length.
  2. 2.0 2.1 2.2 2.3 The length or distance defined as one ri has changed dramatically over time. Though at times (including in the Edo period) it was equivalent to 36 chô, or roughly 3.9km, in certain earlier periods of history one ri was equivalent to six chô, or roughly 0.65 km. Meanwhile, in early modern Korea, they used the same character (里, K: ri) to refer to a distance roughly 1/10th that of the Japanese ri: roughly 400 meters, rather than 4 km. Miyake Riichi, Edo no gaikô toshi, Kashima Shuppankai (1990), 71.
  3. 3.0 3.1 3.2 3.3 Prior to Toyotomi Hideyoshi decreeing a new standard in 1598, one tan was equal to 360 bu instead of 300 bu, and was therefore roughly equal to 1,190.4m2 instead of 991.7m2. One chô was still ten tan, making chô at that time equal to roughly 11.904km2. In theory, a tan of land produced one koku of rice, and a chô of land produced ten koku of rice.
  4. Arne Kalland, Fishing Villages in Tokugawa Japan, University of Hawaii Press (1995), ix.
  5. The kin (C: jīn) is also commonly known as a "catty" in English-language materials (e.g. "400 catties of copper").
  6. The tan is also commonly known as a "picul" in English-language materials.
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