Taxes and their kigo


Tax evaluation (kemi)

***** Location: Japan
***** Season: Mid-Autumn
***** Category: Observance


During the Edo period, agricultural taxes (nengu) were evaluated and collected from the farmers in form of rice. A good harvest brought higher taxes.

Taxes were determined by two systems,
kemi (毛見) and joomen じょうめん【定免】.

kemi refers to the ears of the rice plant
also called tachige たちげ【立ち毛 / 立毛】.


For the kemi inspection, a group of officials came to each village in mid-autumn to check the rice fields and make estimates on the harvest. This was popular in the early Edo period.
But a lot of bribes also made their way in the pockets of the inspectors too.

Later, with the joomen inspections, the taxes were fixed for five years.
New assesments could be made in years with adverse weather conditions and a bad harvest.


kemi 毛見 (けみ ) tax evaluation
..... kemi 検見(けみ)
kemi no shuu 毛見の衆(けみのしゅう)
group of tax evaluation officials

kemi no hi 毛見の日(けみのひ)day of tax evaluation
This was the important day, when the officials and all the village elders and farmers came to watch.

kemihate 毛見果(けみはて)

kemi no makanai 毛見の賂い(けみのまかない)
food and drink for the tax evaluation officials
Entertaining the officials while they stayed in the village.

tsubogari 坪刈(つぼがり) "harvesting one tsubo of land"
one tsubo of the rice fields was harvested on this day and the result taken as basis for the evaluation of the taxes for the coming year.
one tsubo is about 3.3 square meters.


nengumai 年貢米 "tax rice"

The farmer's burden was called "nengu", and is like a tax. About half of their harvest was taken away by the lord of the castle. The famers grew a lot of rice, but could rarely eat it, because they were forced to pay high taxes and the price of rice was expensive. Instead, they would usually eat barnyard grass or millet.
With no money even for rice, of course their clothing style was simple. It was usually made of cotton or hemp. They had a few days off in each year, and the farmers enjoyed their vacation drinking, or arm wrestlinging. Sometimes a few days break was allowed to do annual events and festivals.
source : www.angelfire.com


kigo for late autumn

fukanden no soo 不堪田の奏 (ふかんでんのそう)
reporting of un-used fields

On the seventh day of the ninth lunar month, abandoned fields due to water damage by flooding or other reasons were inspected. The tax of this area could then be reduced.

Starting on the first day of the ninth lunar month, the registre books of land use were checked and ammended.

also called fuka denden 不堪佃田(ふかんでんでん)

Worldwide use


Unlike in Japan, in India, we have the beginning of the sweating season, summer. Schools reopen in Japan but they close for summer vacation here in India.
However the fiscal year ends in both the places end of March!

axmen text messages
Pay on time
Season's first sweat

- Shared by Tushar Gandhi
Joys of Japan, March 2012



. Tax paying season, income tax

Things found on the way


tsuini nengu no osame toki ga kita ka .
I guess the time of reckoning has arrived at last.


CLICK for more photos
Buson Memorial Stone in Sakata

kemi no shuu no fune sashikudase Mogamigawa

the boat of the
tax officials floats down
river Mogamigawa

shinmai no Sakata wa hayashi Mogamigawa

new rice
in Sakata town, so fast
the Mogami river

Yosa Buson 与謝蕪村

. new rice, shinmai 新米 (しんまい)  
kigo for late autumn

Related words

kigo for mid-winter

***** nengu osame 年貢納 (ねんぐおさめ)
paying the last taxes

tax payment, nengu 年貢(ねんぐ)
annual agricultural taxes
rice as tax payment, nengu mai 年貢米(ねんぐまい)
horses as tax payment, nengu uma 年貢馬(ねんぐうま)

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