Appendix A: Traditional Measures
- Units of Length
- Units of Area
The traditional system of units of measure in Japan is the shakkan-hō (尺貫法), a term derived from shaku (尺), a unit of length, and kan (貫), a unit of weight.
Units of Length:
Units of Area:
The jō as a unit of length is still preserved in name in the abbot’s quarters of a Buddhist temple, which is called the hōjō (方丈), and in referring to structural members in traditional architecture. The area of rooms is measured by the number of tatami mat 畳, or jō, where one tatami is 6 shaku (1.8 meters) in length.
A variation of the shaku is the kujirajaku (a.p. kujirashaku; “whale shaku”). Basil Chamberlain notes that this is the “Cloth Measure foot,” adding that the “Distance foot” was sometimes called the kanejaku (曲尺;).
See the following sources:
- Chamberlain, B. H. (1971). Weights and measures. In Japanese things: Being notes on various subjects connected with Japan. For the use of travelers and others. Rutland & Tokyo: Charles E. Tuttle.
- Takei, J. & Keane, M. P. (2001). Measurements. In Sakuteiki: Visions of the Japanese garden. A modern translation of Japan’s gardening classic. Boston, Rutland & Tokyo: Tuttle Publishing.
Basil Chamberlain notes that this is the “Cloth Measure foot,”… Chamberlain, B. (1971); p. 499.
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