Papers Relating to the Foreign Relations of the United States, Transmitted to Congress, With the Annual Message of the President, December 7, 1874
Mr. Bingham to Mr. Fish.
Yokohama , December 5, 1873. (Received January 23, 1874.)
Sir: I have the honor to communicate herewith an abstract of the report of D. W. Ap Jones, esq., a citizen of the United States, upon the adaptation of certain districts in Japan to the growth of cattle and sheep. The material is in Japan to give profitable employment to one hundred million people, instead of the twenty-five, or at most thirty million, who now reside here, one-half of whom are without remunerative occupation, and in poverty. I deem it safe to say that the unoccupied lands in this island and in Yesso, not less than one hundred thousand square miles in extent, would, with but little outlay, support forty million cattle and sheep annually. Notwithstanding the published reports to the contrary, I am also fully satisfied that the undeveloped mineral resources of Japan, in coal, iron, copper, gold, lead, and silver, are very great. I repeat the opinion heretofore expressed that the opening of the country, under proper regulations and restrictions, would be attended with advantageous results to Japan and to the United States.
I am, &c.,
Abstract of Mr. Jones’s report.
His Excellency the Minister for Foreign Affairs:
Sir: Your excellency, on the 25th of September last, was pleased to direct that a passport be issued permitting me free travel through the provinces of Sagami, Idzu, Inmuga, Totomi, Shinam, Kai, and Messashi, for the purpose of examining the wild and unoccupied lands, and their adaptability to the raising and breeding of sheep, and of reporting on the same to the foreign office. Already I have made a partial examination of the waste and mountainous lands in the three first named provinces. My examination was begun at Kina, in Sagami. This place is situated on the right bank of the Hyagawa River, which flows out of Hakone Lake, and empties into the bay of Odawara. A short distance above Kina, on the left bank of the Hyagawa, is the village of Mia-gino. From this Sengoku is distant one-half ri, and the intervening space unsettled. The hills and table-lands were covered with luxurious vegetation, the prevailing grass being that known in Japan by the name of “kaya.” The kaya resembles, in some particulars, three distinct families of grasses, the Reed canary, the wheat, and pampas. The latter grass is peculiar to South America, and to it, in my opinion, the kaya bears a close resemblance. It grows from two to eight inches high, blossoms in August, and drops its seeds, which are small, in September. This, in most places, is the principal grass cut and used for hay in this country. Between Mia-gino and Sengoku there is nearly a ri square of good and available pasture-land, together with sufficient level and table-land to provide winter provender for the stock.[Page 656]
On the right hank of the Hyagawa, a short distance from the Mura of Sengoku, is the Sengoku no Hara, a tract of level land containing about 800 acres. This fine tract of land is bounded on the west by a stream of living water, on the south by grassy hills, which are not too steep for sheep to range on/and a soil composed of a black vegetable loam. On the north the hills are quite low and open, on the east it is entirely open, and the path leading from the Hara to the table-land, south of Kina, goes through a series of depressions and little valleys, and gently rolling hills for a distance of nearly two ris. Within these boundaries there is an area of at least twenty square miles, almost all of which is available for grazing. From Sengoku to Hakone Lake is one-half ri. There are no houses nor tilled lands between these two places. The Mura of Sengoku is situated between two ranges of hills, or rather mountains. The range on the south is called the Utagoi; the range and its spurs immediately north of the Tokaido being in the Hakone system. The range bounding the Sengoku Valley on the north is called the Digataki, and forms also the dividing line between Sagami and Suruga. The hillsides just north of Sengoku are covered with a growth of timber and brush for the distance, perhaps, of half a ri, when they become clear, and bear a luxurious vegetation to the summit. This chain may be said to terminate at the northeastern end of Hakone Lake. The valley from the Mura of Sengoku to the lake is not very good, being a peaty, porous earth, covered with a varied vegetation. In the center of the valley the soil is good, and covered with fine grasses. In this same valley, at the foot of the Komagataki Mountain, and just north of Ubago, the soil is good and covered with the kaya-grass and other vegetation. There is an area within the last-named limits of more than sixteen square miles, including the hills on either side of the valley. At the northwestern end of Hakone Lake there is a path leading up a steep hill a distance of perhaps fifteen chos. This trail starts at the flood-gate of the subterranean canal, where it debouches from the lake, and is intersected by a road leading to the valleys in the southwest. From this trail, following the chain of hills on the west side of the lake and going in a southeasterly direction to the Tokaido, a distance of about five ris, is a range that will probably average one-half ri in width. There is some brush on some of the hill-sides on the northwestern part of this location, but I estimate the available area at twenty-five square miles. The hills near the lake are steep but free from brush and covered with a luxuriant vegetation. Within this location there is a large amount of table-land which is susceptible of cultivation. From the southeastern limit of this range it is four ris to a place called Ike-no-yama, in the province of Idzu, the intervening space (ten miles) being without an inhabitant, a good grass country the whole distance.” About one-half ri from Hakone, southeast of the Tokaido, there is another extensive and fine location for stock. Ike-no-yama commands a beautiful and very wide region. No land could be better for stock.
The hills, gently sloping, are divided into innumerable little knolls and basins, affording shelter from winds, and excellent pasturage. The extent of this excellent location is nearly one ri square. From here to Altami is 2½ ris, and for more than two-thirds of that distance the hill-sides bordering the way are covered with grass. Here there is an area of more than forty square miles of good pasturage. In going from Hakone Lake to Altami I found a good location for sheep, just north of the Mura of Yugawara. The hills are somewhat steep, but covered with grass, better than that immediately around Hakone. Above the village of Idzu-San is an extensive stock-range. The basin and surrounding hills would keep 3,000 sheep, both summer and winter. About one-half ri north of Altami is a place called Ai-no-Hara. Here there is nearly a ri square of good pasturage land. Here, too, as in Idzu-San, the climate is good for sheep, snow beginning to fall in December, and disappearing in February. There are other extensive ranges in Idzu, which I did not visit. This province, on account of the hilly nature of the country, is, I should judge, very sparsely settled, but nearly all the rougher surf ace is weir adapted for grazing and capable of maintaining a very large number of sheep. In the province of Suruga, I examined the whole of the western slope of Fugi-Yama. A short distance above Kami de Mura, about 3 ris from the town of Oruya, there is a valley about 3 ris in length, and 1 ri in width. From the northern border of this valley to the Ashitaka Mountains, the distance is about 6 ris, and the range will average at least one-half ri in width. On this face of Fugi-Yama, the soil is good and mostly covered with the fine mountain-grasses and innumerable wild-flowers. One of the finest stock-ranges, I think, I ever saw in any country, begins about 1½ ris from here, just above Skitakita Ikubo. The surface is in places, gently undulating, and covered with a rich growth of grass, short, fine, and varied in kind, and with wild flowers of every kind mingling with the greensward, presenting a picture of great beauty. Bordering the base of Fugi is an extensive forest, where nearly all the useful species of timber known to Japan flourish.
Between Fugi and the Ashitaka range of mountains on the east, there is a distance of about 4 ris, comprising a large tract of wild country. Not only this tract, but also several others, of equal, if not greater, extent, about the base of Fugi-Yama, are well adapted to the raising of sheep. Here, for the first time io Japan, I saw the [Page 657] true “blue-joint” grass, a species highly esteemed in America. The extent of grazing land on the north side of the Digitaki chain is, perhaps, greater than that already described. It is low and rolling in nature, and is covered with the short Shita grass, intermingled with other wild varieties. All of this vast extent of country lies nearly in a body. The only break is the valley of Goten. With the exception of this valley, about 2 ris in width, there is a distance of nearly eighty English miles, in which there is not a house, and almost all of which is well adapted to the raising of sheep and cattle. This district would maintain, at least, one million head of sheep.
character of the soil and grasses.
That space around the foot of Fugi-Yama within a radius of six ris, must once have been covered with volcanic cinders or scoria. A rich soil has gradually formed over this black waste, until now a deep, fertile loam covers the whole surface. Like all lava soils, it produces the best crops. The soil has been made in the other localities which I visited by the decay of deciduous vegetable matter, but resting on a different substratum. But, with very rare exceptions, the soil of all this portion of Japan is a black vegetable loam. In some places I found a peaty, porous earth, indicating, I think, the previous existence of bogs; but the soil is now productive, being thoroughly mixed with decayed vegetable matter. A great deal of this land is capable of producing the cereals, and, I am of opinion, also the American upland cotton. Wherever the grass is unmown, the kaya is the prevailing variety; but upon being cut a few times, it quickly yields to liner and more nutritious varieties, such as the annual spear-grass, the fine and broad-leaf meadow, and the species known as “fox-tail,” and “meadow fescue.” A species of wild vetch also makes its appearance in these places, showing conclusively that the wild lands of Japan only need stock to develop a sward unprecedented for its thickness, beauty, and nutritious qualities. The grass remains green for nearly nine months in the year. On the 5th of the present month (November) I culled the choicest wild-flowers at an elevation of 4,000 feet above the level of the sea. Here stock would need shelter for not more than two months in the year. There is one wild species of grass in Japan, the “hiye,” which many of the farmers have used as hay, and which is most valuable in its nature. It contains one thousand per cent, more seed than any of the clovers, and the leaves and stalk are far more succulent. When Japan becomes a stock country I confidently predict that the hiye will form the chief winter provender for her horses, cattle, and sheep.
Will sheep thrive in Japan? I have no hesitation in answering yes. If any difficulty has been encountered in the past, it has been owing to the manner, the very bad manner, I might say, in which the sheep have been kept, and not because the grasses are poisonous or wanting in nutrition. Horses and cattle do well in Japan on the native grasses; and I have not the slightest reason for supposing that sheep will not do equally well, if properly attended to and cared for. As yet, in Japan, the sheep has had no fair trial—indeed, no chance to live, on account of the manner in which it has been treated. Instead of being pastured on the beautiful ranges I have visited and described, where it could roam and crop its favorite food, it has been kept in dirty pens, irregularly fed, and that too on food only of one kind and of an inferior quality. Then, too, the sheep introduced into Japan, the Chinese breed, is an inferior animal. It is not hardy, and its fleece is very light and of an exceedingly poor quality. There are breeds of sheep much more valuable, which would thrive everywhere in Japan. From my observation, I am convinced that the Cashmere goat, an animal of rare value, would also thrive in Japan. The public domain of Japan, unoccupied, is of vast extent in comparison with the area actually under cultivation. This domain is covered with grass, and grass is only another name for beef, mutton, clothing, hides, and tallow. I am told on the authority of an official of the customs, that Japan imports, annually, woolen goods, and woolens mixed with cotton, to the amount of five million dollars. If the grass crop of Japan could be utilized by stock, the value of that stock would exceed $150,000,000. This statement can be readily verified by comparison with statistics furnished by other countries. The annual yield from this stock would save a vast drain upon the resources of the country; and would call into life very many new industries. The poor, hard-working farmers of Japan to-day pay four-fifths of the nation’s taxation. Every new source of wealth created and subjected to taxation would relieve this class, which should be specially the care of every government, for theirs is the most important interest. If this interest languishes, there can be no prosperity; if too heavily taxed, there will be universal discontent. If we could compare the agricultural products of the present day, with the exception of tea and silk, since the country has been opened to commerce, with those of a century ago, I do not think that we will find any increase in the productions of the country. Agriculture cannot advance, and wealth consequently cannot increase, when the chief fertilizer is obtained only from the retiring-houses, and the greater part of the extensive, rich, fertile domain of Japan, without the introduction of live stock, must forever remain unproductive, and agriculture to a great extent cease to advance. In Japan [Page 658] there are too many people engaged in unproductive labor, and nothing will nor can correct this state of things but the introduction of new and varied industries. The care of one million of sheep would require the employment of about four thousand persons. Woolen-mills would probably follow and create demands for new labor. Thus one industry would create another, the condition of the laboring poor would be improved, and whatever conduces to the strength and improvement of that class inevitably adds to the wealth and prosperity of the nation.
I am your excellences obedient servant,