> You don't need iron tools to build irrigation systems. A more
> explanation in my opinion is the arrival of the pony soldiers.
Iron tools are not indeed necessary to build irrigation systems, but
that was not the point being made.
The point being made was that the lack of iron is a reasonable
hypothesis why widespread wet-field rice agriculture got started so
late in Japan. Yes, people were farming that way in China for
thousands of years earlier, but the climate and population pressures
were different there. The Japanese didn't need paddy-field
agriculture; their environment was rich enough to sustain them
otherwise, without all the extra effort involved in building
irrigation systems. Thus, they could have known the ins and outs of
paddy farming for quite a while without ever seeing the need to
bother with it.
Only when iron smelting was introduced from the continent did such
construction practices become cost-effective enough to be attractive
as a means of subsistence.
As for pony soldiers...what do you mean? The Wei Chronicle, written
in late Yayoi, mentions that "the Wa people have neither cattle nor
horses", and this was well after we know paddy-field farming took
> also suggests that there was more than simple lack or rice or even
> possibly technology which inhibitted the spread of rice culture to
> Japan as rice culture existed in China for a very long time before
> spread to Japan.
> There is considerable political and emotional baggage attached to
> in modern Japan. Even using Ishige's tables, Japan is on the fringe
> the Monsoon belt. For that matter, much of China does not use rice
> a staple. Where it can be grown, rice does produce a high yield.
> However, much of Japan is inhospitable to rice. Further, even with
> modern rice supports, many other crops are grown in Japan. For
> cultural reasons, rice is currently grown in areas where it is most
> likely less productive than other uses would be. This sort of
> is common in many rural areas and is not unique to Japan.
The archeological record shows that once wet-rice farming really took
hold in Japan, it was being performed just about everywhere except
Hokkaido within the next three hundred years. However, certain areas
did turn away from that kind of farming and back to cultivating
millet and other grains (particularly in the north of Honshu, where
the "line" of rice cultivation actually retreated back to the middle
of Tohoku around the Middle Yayoi...they figured out that rice ain't
worth it up there). Still other areas, particularly coastal ones
where sea fishing was paramount, never adopted rice culture at all.
Still, as Imamura (1996) puts it:
"Nevertheless, the overwhelming importance of rice in the Yayoi
period, as well as throughout Japanese history, is demonstrated by
the predominantly high percentage of rice among all cereals recovered
from Yayoi sites, and by the fact that rice was the most important
food even in mountainous villages of the Historical period which are
not located in environments ideally suited for rice cultivation."
So why did almost everyone see a need to start farming rice at once
(even with the aforementioned new and efficient iron tools)? Was it
immigration, or interbreeding, or, as I've heard it theorized once
somewhere, a "cargo cult" sort of thing? Interesting question.
"Loved it? You were lucky to be able to love anything! Back in my
day we didn't have abstract emotional constructs to apply to
situations! We were, and that was it, and I for one didn't
complain!" -- My friend David, reminiscing