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  • Japanese: 石高 (kokudaka)

Kokudaka was a measure of the agricultural production of a daimyô domain, or "han," expressed as a measure of koku of rice. As a representation of the domain's wealth, kokudaka determined the amount of the domain's tax obligations to the shogunate, and the domain's status relative to other domains.

The system owed much to the cadastral surveys undertaken by Toyotomi Hideyoshi in the 1580s-90s, which were the first to standardize the tools (and units of measurement) throughout the process, across the archipelago. The surveys recorded and documented the location, size, and soil quality of each section of land, as well as the name of the chief cultivator, the crops being grown there, and the assessed taxable agricultural yield.[1] Though ostensibly a measure of the amount of rice the domain could produce, in practice, the kokudaka of many domains was in fact calculated in part from a conversion of their agricultural production in other products, such as wheat or beans, into an equivalent amount in rice, with the distance from market and other considerations factored in as well; a few domains which were quite poor in agricultural production but quite important in, for example foreign relations or trade, such as Tsushima han, were assigned kokudaka far in excess of their agricultural production, in order to reflect their importance and thus confer a degree of rank.[2]

The kokudaka of the entire archipelago totaled around 25 million koku around 1700,[3] after considerable growth in the 17th century, but remained relatively static over the course of the remainder of the Edo period. The Tokugawa were the largest landholders, with about four million koku worth of direct shogunate lands in the mid-18th century, comprising roughly 15% of the land, while the Maeda clan of Kaga han and Shimazu clan of Satsuma han were second and third in official kokudaka, at one million and 770,000, respectively. About 500,000 koku worth of land was controlled by the Imperial family, major temples, and other such groups. Hatamoto controlled about ten percent of the land, and the daimyô the rest. The smallest daimyô domains, by definition, possessed at least 10,000 koku, while some samurai retainers were granted sub-domains within a han, with a much smaller rating in koku. The majority of han were officially assessed at a kokudaka in the range of 10,000 to 200,000 koku, though the kokudaka of the most powerful domains exceeded 500,000 koku.[4]

This figure, though ostensibly based on the actual agricultural production of the domain's territory, often did not change over the course of the period. A domain's kokudaka might be changed as a political reward or punishment, but the shogunate did not engage in regular surveys of agricultural production, and did not update domains' kokudaka on the basis of their production. One of the results or implications of this is that kokudaka did not accurately reflect the total amount of food (or even just of rice) available within a territory. Most peasants, on average, can be assumed to have been producing or otherwise obtaining more food than a simple calculation of the kokudaka divided by the population would indicate.

Multiple different figures for the kokudaka thus often existed simultaneously for a single domain. The official figure determined and recognized by the Tokugawa shogunate and used as a marker or indicator of the domain's wealth and status can be referred to as omotedaka (表高), using the character omote, meaning "official," "surface," or "outside." This was also known as hôdaka (封高), meaning the kokudaka one was officially invested () with.[5] Meanwhile, nearly all domains maintained their own internal figures for agricultural production, called uchidaka (内高), using the character uchi, meaning "inside" or "internal." The uchidaka was often a higher figure, more regularly assessed and more accurately reflecting increases and expansions of agricultural productivity within the domain. It was generally in the best interests of the domain to not report the higher figure, and to allow the omotedaka recognized by the shogunate to remain at a lower figure, since this meant lower tax payments owed by the domain to the shogunate; though this seems deceitful or deceptive, such behavior was widely condoned by the shogunate, as part of the philosophy of omote and uchi, allowing internal matters to remain relatively private, so long as a domain's obligations on the official, external level were properly observed.

Examples of Omotedaka


  • Edo daimyô hyakke 江戸大名百家. Bessatsu Taiyô 別冊太陽. Spring 1978.
  • Roberts, Luke. Performing the Great Peace: Political Space and Open Secrets in Tokugawa Japan. University of Hawaii Press, 2012. p54.
  1. Albert M. Craig, The Heritage of Japanese Civilization, Second Edition, Prentice Hall (2011), 64.
  2. Luke Roberts, Mercantilism in a Japanese Domain: The Merchant Origins of Economic Nationalism in 18th-Century Tosa, Cambridge University Press (1998), 36-37.
  3. Mark Ravina, Land and Lordship in Early Modern Japan, Stanford University Press (1999), 7.
  4. Roberts, Performing the Great Peace, 54; Ravina, Land and Lordship, 16.
  5. Ravina, Land and Lordship, 12, 226.

See also