Heiji kanai monogatari 平時家内物語
An essay on household management issued to the residents of Gushichan district (magiri) by Sai On
Original Language: Japanese sōrōbun
[Note: This document is noteworthy for at least two reasons. First, it complements many of Sai On's other essays in which he warns against complacency and urges Ryukyuans constantly to plan ahead for eventual problems, while working hard and living frugally. One can well imagine Sai On frustrated with what he perceived as the short-sighted thinking of most peasants. Second, we see Sai On's detailed understanding of Ryukyu-specific agricultural problems. This understanding was the result in part of knowledge he attained through lengthy inspections of rural villages and forests, during which Sai On would ask local peasants to explain agricultural details.]
1. The essential component in endeavoring to regulate the household is crafting a long-range plan. If this plan is not good, then no matter how you exert yourself in present endeavors, the household will gradually decline. It is inevitable.
2. For all members of society, high and low alike, devotion to the way of heavenly nature 天性 and the five ethical relationships 五倫 is the most important expenditure of effort. Household planning should take into consideration relationships between parents, brothers, wives, and children, of course, as well as relatives and even friends.
3. If daily interaction with relatives and friends is not good, then no matter how much one endeavors to build up the wealth of a household, relatives and friends will be jealous of your success. Therefore, on the contrary, an abundance of wealth can lead to the decline of a household.
4. The household head must endeavor honestly and vigorously to explain to wives, children, and male and female servants how to work within the household. If he does not, then each will adhere to his or her own ideas and he will be unable to develop the means to regulate the household as he sees fit. On the contrary, such a household can be expected gradually to decline. This point should be borne in mind.
5. Poverty or good fortune in a household is not a matter of how much or how little wealth parents or grandparents have handed down. Instead, quality of planning is the main basis of household prosperity or decline. Therefore, even the descendants of the wealthy who do not plan ahead will decline in the end, whereas even descendants of an impoverished household who plan ahead in all matters will prosper in the end. There are many such people living in society and one should regulate one's household in accordance with observations of the actual state of affairs prevailing in society.
6. When most people are confronted with many different matters, their ability to deal with them will become rough. With planning, however, we can economize and deal with matters properly. The rice and money put up yearly in the storehouses established in each village are truly necessary for aiding the lives of every member of the village. Because this aid is accomplished by stored items, it is of the highest importance for everyone in all matters to plan to increase the amount stored each year. Along with this storage, there are other matters that need attention. First, be aware of the status of agricultural products, dried vegetables, and the like. Give thought to ways of getting by, even in years of poor harvests, without using reserve stores. If there is no such planning, then even when stores are abundant, shortages will sadly result. When sago palms (sotetsu) or other items that are actually edible are unavailable, people must turn to other items. Eating such things to get through periods of hunger is the result of failing to plan with foresight in pursuing household work during ordinary times. Because this point is connected with saving lives, it should be foremost in our minds.
7. Countries to the north with very cold climates suffer yearly food shortages and thus devote much effort to storing dried vegetables to supplement staple foods. Although ours is not a cold country, we are surrounded on all sides by a vast ocean and subject to typhoons. Furthermore, drought or continuous rain frequently obstructs agriculture, causing food shortages and thus distress among peasants and urban dwellers alike. Therefore, as in cold countries, the people of our country should strive to store dried vegetables during ordinary times. In years of bumper harvests as well, if people have been diligent in storing dried vegetables and mix them in with regular food and drink, the food supply will increase above that of ordinary times. If private storage is also increased, added household stability will be certain.
8. Those living in farming communities rely heavily on things like vegetables. Throughout the year, without negligence, they must keep in mind the task of storing up dried vegetables as a hedge against years of poor harvests.
9. Because sweet potatoes are daily staple foods, potato fields should be located as close as possible to the village, and if the soil is so poor that potatoes cannot grow, use fertilizer. If the fields are located far from the village, then costs are incurred owing to the time required for coming and going to dig out the potatoes. Multiplied by all the days in a year, this situation is a considerable loss of the household. For other types of crops, because they ripen and are harvested at one time, even if they are far away, there is no significant expenditure of time. Consider this matter carefully to prevent the expense of wasting time.
10. In addition to a field's primary crops, one should consider what else to grow in them. In a field for sweet potatoes, for example, though sweet potatoes are the primary crop, it is an essential component of agriculture to plant the seeds of other simple-to-cultivate crops such as beans, hemp, cotton and hachimaki flowers [八巻花--does anyone know what these are?] during the times when there are no potato vines. Those who cultivate fields are to give high priority to planning such matters.
11. When sweet potatoes are infested with worms or have rotted from moisture, they are completely lost, and the harm to the household is great. Should such a problem occur, dig them all out at once, check them, dry them, and put them in a sack. Doing so will supplement the food supply in bad years, of course, and by periodically exchanging food stores even in good years, there will be more food than normal, which will benefit households.
12. The well-known phenomenon of ease and pleasure during years of a bountiful harvest and suffering during hears of poor harvests happens because where there is absolutely no planning. Household planning means working diligently, exhausting your strength night and day in an effort to store up rice, money, et cetera in anticipation of bad years. Such foresight is essential. Regarding such effort, contrary to ordinary expectations, it is during the good years that people should experience difficulty so that during poor years they can bet by comfortably without stress. To work and plan in this manner during ordinary times is the main work of the household.
13. Regarding the extensive use of fertilizer on areas of poor soil, there are specific agricultural guidelines. Fertilizer is particularly effective when mixed with urine, but in this place, though several varieties of fertilizer are used, urine is not collected in very high quantities. It is for this reason that the use of fertilizer is often ill-informed and ineffective. Fertilizer should be prepared with much effort and thought because if only the fertilizer is well prepared, one can expect a bountiful harvest with relatively little labor.
14. Regarding fields, no matter how poor or thin the soil, its quality will improve when in strict accordance with agricultural principles you create furrows at intervals of one shaku, four sun. Then, all of the crops that could be planted, tuberous plants above all, can be expected to grow vigorously and provide a rich harvest.
15. Regarding a household's usual purchases, it is essential that they be made only after careful consideration of the limits of a household's means. Not to act in accord with the limits of one's means, even if at the moment there appears to be no obstacle, will later cause the household gradually to decline and it can be expected that one's descendants will not flourish. There being many examples, it is well known that the habits of most people are such that even if their fortunes change for the worse and even though it is not in accord with their means, they obtain a variety of expensive items, and, in the end, the situation is a hindrance to the household. Ponder this point carefully.
16. In pursuing or carrying out any thing or affair we must consider, with a true mind purged of evil thoughts, whether the matter will benefit only one's own generation or whether it will benefit the many generations of one's descendants. If it will benefit the many generations of one's descendants, vigorously pursuit it and carry it out. If it pertains only to the likes or dislikes of a single person, one should exercise much restraint.
17. Each district (magiri) and each outer island has a yearly tax obligation. Above all, Kume and the other islands have a need for things like cotton, pongee, and ramie cloth. If the residents of these places do not put forth their fullest effort at regulating the household, it is only natural that they will not be able to pay their taxes and obtain what they need. Furthermore, if they neglect planning ahead during ordinary times, then the difficulty they encounter, even if it be a slight deficiency in the harvest--not to mention a storm or drought--is lamentable. Ponder this matter well and always expend your fullest energy in carefully planning ahead.
18. The effort to acquire wealth is something that all members of the household should vigorously pursue without negligence. But greedy or grasping behavior, even in small matters, will not result in success. Regarding the desire for wealth, it may be possible to acquire good things by employing a variety of stratagems (hōben 方便). In such cases, however, because the human mind is a spiritual entity (reibutsu 霊物), there is no escaping the censure of what people see and hear. Even if, for example, one were able to avoid the blame of other people, s/he could not escape the blame of tentō 天道. Be circumspect about this matter.
19. The habits of most people indicate that the find the effects of liquor desirable. Although ordinarily one might be good, such indulgence will not only obstruct one's personal development, it will obstruct the household enterprise. And because it hinders a wide variety of affairs, for the sake of a household's prosperity, one should endeavor to resist the pleasures of drinking.
20. Those peasants living along the coast who take time to fish or gather shellfish waste precious time by spending all day at the ocean. They neglect their essential work, agriculture, or neglect their other household occupations. The gradual decline of such households is terribly unnecessary. Becoming more skilled at catching fish than at agriculture is precisely such a case. The absence of effort to prevent needless visits to the seashore and the resulting wasting of time is an extreme case of the lack of foresight and planning. it is necessary to ponder this matter.
21. To regard spirits of the living and spirits of the dead as something to worship or as some sort of evil omen is to engage in empty practices. Foolishly to believe in such things will ultimately become a great hindrance to the household. Human beings, by working at substantive human practices, can preserve their households. Empty practices such as described here are devoid of any efficacy.
22. Because pots and axes are not products of this country and have to be bought and imported from other countries, they must be used with great care. To use such items extensively without planning will certainly not do. Also, regarding clothing, it is a major expense for women who are ashamed to make clothing out of a single tan of cloth. To wash clothing in an unsuitable manner or to treat it roughly most of the time is also an extreme instance of not planning ahead. Think hard about these matters.
23. It is essential for high and low within a household to plan ahead for unexpected expenses. Unexpected expenses include sickness, death, loss to theft, bad harvests, fire damage, and so forth. Failure to take steps in advance to deal with these matters will surely cause the household to become hard pressed, and its ultimate decline is certain.
24. Marriage ceremonies, ancestral rites, funeral services, and so forth should be carried out in accordance with each person's means. Carrying them out by borrowing excessively from others to enact ceremonies beyond one's means on the grounds that such displays are customary will assuredly cause the household to decline. This point must be carefully taken to heart.
25. The effort to attain wealth should always be carried out in whole-hearted compliance with rules. Because one's basic income goes to purchase goods, it should be divided into five parts, and one of the parts should be used for ordinary needs. Proceeding in this way, then, for example, even if one were to encounter unexpected trouble at sea, the remaining four parts would likely allow the household to get by without suffering. If the basic income is all spent and something unexpected comes along, there will be nothing that can be done at that time. It will cause bewilderment.
26. For the households of farmers, craftsmen, and merchants to use the techniques of constant planning in accordance with the above points and regulate their households to support children and grandchildren, it is of the utmost importance to instruct your children, thereby passing the household down to many future generations. If night and day the household members put their full effort into the above matters, discussing vigorously and working hard, then no matter how poor a particular year's harvest may be, you will definitely not be bewildered. On the contrary, it is certain that conditions within the household will gradually evolve in a direction that benefits your posterity. Although I have discussed matters to this extent, effecting a change will not be easy. Because the above points have been assembled together in a single volume that can be passed along, we should devote our fullest effort to regulating the household.
乾隆拾四年己己十月 (14th year of Qianlong, 10th month)
To all men and women of Gushichan District