A farmer’s life, c. 1920.



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“Japanese farmer house and country girl”, c. 1920. (Gift of J. Harper Brady Sr.)

See also:
A farm field in the shadow of Mt. Fuji, c. 1920.
Rice farming, c. 1920.
“Village life – competitive charm”, Nohonshugi (“Agrarian fundamentalism”) propaganda postcard, c. 1940.

“Every few hundred feet , we passed a farm-house screened by clipped hedgerows and bosomed in trees; and at longer intervals we rolled through some village, the country pike becoming for the time the village street. The land was an archipelago of homesteads in a sea of rice.”

– Percival Lowell, “The Soul of the Far East”, 1888

“Works referring to Japan’s rural sector draw a sharp contrast between the Meiji era, 1868-1912 – a time of growth and development – and the 1920s and 1930s, portrayed as decades of stagnation, crises, and impoverishment.

“A farmer drying radishes”, c. 1920. (Gift of J. Harper Brady Sr.)

“The latter period is characterized as one of over-population, growing pressure on land, insufficient urban employment for the countryside’s surplus youth, agricultural stagnation, the elimination of rural by-employment, exploitation of peasants by suppliers of agricultural inputs, the collapse of sericulture, and mounting debt, tax, and rent burdens. Did Japanese farmers pass suddenly from a golden to a bleak age?

“… There is a belief encouraged by such expressions as ‘confiscation’ of the ‘produce of the fields’ that imposts on farmers were as a heavy as the 34 percent of the rice crop levied in the early Meiji decades. They were, in fact, far lighter … Although by 1912 all taxes and levies took no more than 12.5 percent of farm income, there was a further reduction so that by 1933 the figure was 6 percent and just prior to World War II, 5 percent.

“From outright exploitation, the government turned, in the 1920s, to assisting farmers. The post-1921 rice-control policy may have encouraged colonial production and failed to stop the price fall before 1932 but it did lift farmer’s returns in 1934-1935 and ensure that during the period from 1931-1938 rice prices were steadier than those of [crops] entirely subject to market forces.”

Japan’s Farm Sector, 1920-1940: A Need for Reassessment, by P.K. Hall, Agricultural History, Vol. 58, No. 4, October 1984

Farmers “resting after lunch”, c. 1910.

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