Tusbo vs Tusbo niwa.

yama(7b Ga)December 28, 2004

Hi all

what do you think about it ?

There are two meaning of "tusbo" as unit of mesurement. old time , let's say Heian piriod ( 794~1191) and tusbo as we use today and past . If you can find answer then you will know what tusbo niwa is or at least you can relate to meaning/size of Tusbo.

what do you know about Tusbo or Tusbo niwa?

Shall we start now ?.............. mike / yama

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edzard(3b Canada)

:), tsubo = entrance place to minka..

    Bookmark   December 28, 2004 at 10:51PM
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yama(7b Ga)

I threw baits . you are the first one bite a bait .
Will see if anyone come out with his /her thought.
Scott , Evelyn,any one, Do you have any idea ?
Edzard : hint is Heian kyo

    Bookmark   December 28, 2004 at 11:35PM
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rainfaerie(SF Bay Area 9)

Doesn't 'tsuboniwa' refer to a very compact Japanese courtyard garden? I'm sure that I'm over-simplifying the concept, but that's all I know about it. Maybe someone will elaborate.

I have heard the term 'tsubo' used as a unit of measure in modern day Japanese real estate, but did not know until now that 1 'tsubo' = 3.3 square meters. (And, incidentally, you've given me a stupendous idea. I am a middle school science teacher, and I also teach cartography as a sort of special interest class - so, thanks! :^)

    Bookmark   December 29, 2004 at 12:29AM
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Gorfram(7b W Oregon)


I understand that a 'tsubo' is currently the smallest unit of land measurement used in Japan, indicating an area approximately 6 feet (or 2 meters :) on a side.
[I find it a little frightening to think about trying to raise enough food to feed a family on a parcel of land measured in tsubos - give me several acres, hectares, or sections for that purpose.]

Teiji Itoh tells us that a tsuboniwa can be as small as 4, or even 3 tsubo (it's perhaps not my place to contradict Itoh, but I can't help but think that one should only need a single tsubo for the smallest tsuboniwa).

If Edzard says that a tsubo was formerly the entrance to a traditional Japanese farmhouse, I'll take his word for it :)In fact, I think I remember something about that: it was more like a forecourt than a genkan, right?

Yama-san, your Heian-kyo hint reminds me that when that city was laid out, it was all done in squares and rectangles, with the tsubo as the smallest unit of land, and that the size of the lots allowed to people of various ranks and stations was measured in the number of tsubo they contained. The parts of present-day Kyoto that share the site of ancient Heian kyo still show that rectilinear layout.

But I'm not sure how the use of 'tsubo' is different between past & present. If I bought a house in Japan today, wouldn't the real estate agent describe the size and area of the house in mats, and the yard and lot size in tsubo?


:) Evelyn

    Bookmark   December 29, 2004 at 12:58AM
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yama(7b Ga)

Hi Evelyn
you are very quick leaner. one tsubo is 1.8Mx 1.8meter about 6 feet . a tatami mat is about 3 feet x6 feet. two tatami mat is equal to 1 Tsubo. useing old mesurement is ilegal, but no one punished Yet. useing tsubo is easer to relate to size of lot than squer meter. every day many of Japanese are sleeping on tatami mat.
size of tatami mat at temple and apartment of tatami are different. One use for apartment is called " Danchi size" Danchi means apartment complex. Danchi size is smaller than avrage home useing.

as you find Tsubo is smallest unit of devided lot of Heian kyo. 1 taubo of Heian era was rictanguler shape . There were two way to make up 1 tsubo. one type of a tsubo is 6 steps x 60 steps . another is 12 steps x 30 steps. I do not know what is exact mesurement of One step. I think Japanese of at time must be much smaller than today 's Japanese. I have to find out exact mesuerment of "one step"

whole purpos of this posting is enetertainment . light topic can give reader of J garden froum small thinking of what is tusbo niwa. most Japnanse today think Tsubo as two tatami mat size. when you can think of one tsubo of old mesurement as 12 step x 30 step , you can relate to size of many Tusbo niwa you see in books.
love hotel's tsubo niwa is much, much smaller than most tsuboniwa. couple have only one things in mind ..... They are too busy to enjoy otherthings than enjoying Tsuboniwa of love Hotel.... hehehe ^-^ I like to try to go there once again myself. If I am still usefull...................mike /yama

    Bookmark   December 29, 2004 at 6:14AM
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bambooo(6 CT USA)

Yama living in Georgia you must be familliar with the ancient local measurement called the "see em".
Which is more variable than a piece or "down Peachtree".
A see em is to walk about as far as you can see down the trail. Two see ems is to repeat the process a second time.

    Bookmark   December 29, 2004 at 10:03AM
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rainfaerie(SF Bay Area 9)

Hi, Yama and Evelyn -
For an area to be a square, must it consist of a square number of modern 'tsubo' (4, 9, 16, 25, etc.)?
1 'tsubo' is a 1.8m x 1.8m square (about 3.3 sq. meters);
2 'tsubo' is a 1.8m x 3.6m rectangle?

bambooo, that's intriguing. Sounds like fodder for property disputes to me. Makes me wonder how many ancient land sales have been based upon 'see ems' and what the outcome was :^P.

    Bookmark   December 29, 2004 at 11:49AM
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If you have only a very small balcony, might it be a tatami niwa? Or even a Danchi niwa?

    Bookmark   December 29, 2004 at 4:33PM
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kobold(Vancouver BC)

I have no idea about it, but in Hungary/my home country/, the smallest unit to measure land, especialy building lots, gardens, small orchards, is a unit 1.67m X 1.67m, close to the 1.8m X 1.8m , maybe very convenient size.


    Bookmark   December 29, 2004 at 5:59PM
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kobold(Vancouver BC)

As I think

1 tsubo= 1.8 x 1.8 m = 3.24 sq meter= 32400 sq cm=360 sqstep

1 sq step= 90 sq cm

1 step= approx. 9.5 cm.

Maybe baby steps! (I can be wrong, I didn't use calculator)


    Bookmark   December 29, 2004 at 9:09PM
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Gorfram(7b W Oregon)

A google of "human factors step length Japan" yielded a study done in modern Japan in which the step lengths of 500-some people passing a street corner varied from 51 cm to 91 cm (the abstract that I could access did not give an average or median step length).

OTOH, I suspect that most or all of those people would have been wearing western shoes, and I've read that people wearing geta usually take small, shallow steps, as the shoes stay on one's feet better that way. (But now I'm not sure whether that's really a worthwhile intercultural tidbit, or false "ain't-they-quaint" chauvanism.)

But I'm pretty sure that we could document that Japanese people were physically smaller in the Heian period than at present. Also, anyone pacing out a measurement is likely to take smaller, more precise steps than someone hurrying to a destination.

Wouldn't it be wonderfully convenient if the Heian 'step' turned out to be 45 cm? :)

- Evelyn

    Bookmark   December 30, 2004 at 1:29AM
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No matter what the language, the one more or less fixed reference was/is the human body. It seems that a 'shakyu' is equivalent to a foot (12 inches approx.) and that a 'mon' equates with a a fingers width (1 inch approx.) and a 'ken' with two paces (6 feet approx). That a body requires an area approximately twice as long as it is wide to sleep on offers a simple proportioning device for living spaces. If you put two of these sleeping spaces side by side you get an area of approx 3.24 square metres.
There is a web-site that gives conversions from Japanese measurements to metric and imperial and this says that 3000 tsubo is equal to a 'cho' that a 'tann' is ten times smaller and 'se' is ten times smaller than that. As 12 x 30 is 360 which is close to the denominator so innacurately paced out could there be some confusion or connection with the measurements mike mentions?

    Bookmark   December 30, 2004 at 4:19PM
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Cady(6b/Sunset34 MA)

"The Measure and Construction of the Japanese House" - I think published by Tuttle - has all of the standard traditional measurements, including sketches of the human body (presumably the traditionally-sized Japanese) showing how measurements were developed to accomodate an average-to-tall Japanse in various positions (kneeling/seiza; bowing from seiza; reaching up or down, lying down, standing and stretching, and more).

There was a copy at the Peabody Essex Museum giftshop, which Mike and I browsed through today. If we get back to the museum this week, I'll get the exact title and publisher.

    Bookmark   December 30, 2004 at 8:32PM
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Is this spelling correct? I can find a lot of information on Tsuboniwa but little on Tusbo niwa. It seems a little too coincidental. Is Tusbo vs Tusbo niwa what you actually meant?

On the web I found this quote by Isao Yoshikawa.

ÂThe term "tsuboniwa" seems to originate from the Heian period (794-1191) when Japanese arts flourished. In those days the small courtyards of the Imperial Palace or the mansions of high-ranking ministers were called "tsuboniwa", which literally meant alcoves or enclosed spaces. The term "tsubo" later acquired different meaning such as tea gardens, small quadrangle, or inner gardens. Nowadays "tsubo" is only used as a unit of measurement and most people identify "tsuboniwa" as any small scale garden regardless of whether it is enclosed or open.Â

    Bookmark   December 31, 2004 at 12:47AM
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nachodaddy(quiet, I’m trying to meditate!)


Way off the original subject but if you want to incorporate some of your heritage into your Japanese style garden check out this link.


BTW, the website is for everybody who likes conifers.

Happy O-Shogatsu to all!!!!!


    Bookmark   December 31, 2004 at 1:58PM
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Just a thought: we use 'yard' for a measurement and as the American version of garden. What if Tsubo is used in the same way with a double meaning?
BTW gj Mike spelled it wrong but it was seamlessly corrected later.

    Bookmark   December 31, 2004 at 4:47PM
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kobold(Vancouver BC)

Michael, thank you, I enjoyed it, actually the other way, have a summerhouse and family in Hungary , try to visit them yearly and change that garden to Japanese style . I can find fantastic rocks there!I love conifers, thanks again!



    Bookmark   December 31, 2004 at 6:13PM
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yama(7b Ga)

Hi all

Tsubo was smallest unit of division of farm land way back AD646, befor Heijokyo and Heiankyo's land division.
1 cho was divided into 36 tusbos each a tusbo mesaured as 12 steps x 60 steps or 12 steps x 30 step.
The reason I borught this subject is that most Japanese even do not know old measurement of tusbo. when thinking of two tatami mats are equal to 1 tsubo. This is the way most of us/ Japanese usunderstand a tsubo nowaday.

If you can think of 12 step x 30 steps is one tsubo, you can relate size of tsuboniwa. The mesurement of old 1 tusbo give some idea of size of the garden.

Andrea; Meaning of kanji of "step" is not size of foot ^-^. "walking step" in seven century peoples did not have tape measure, useing step(s) was very practical to mesure distance.

I am very happy that every one did own reserch and brought result on one table without heating agument.
As useal, Inky is always my side when I misspelled. ^-^

eveyln : If you like to know more about history of tusbo I will rewrite in detail . This time only mean to be light topic for new years day.
you mentioned "dieing maple trees" which Edzard nor me did not responded the post.
some of poster do not want to give information of where he/ she location is , do not give enought information about condition of soil, discreption of trees conditions etc, in the past when I asked more about his/ her knowlege of hulticulture, tools , mentioned cost of Chemical etc , they do not wanted to respond my question. some of questioner do not spend time to write properly. some recieved respond(s) but never write back anything after recieved information(s).
if questioner did not spend enough time to supply informations, I do not respond it. or give short note and see how he/she respond to it.

I do not respond to "how to design Japanese garden question" That is part of my profession , simply cannot give my time for free to one indvisual person. without seeing site with my own eye, not meeting onwer of of home personaly, not knowing local soil, weather condition also hard to make right sugestion. also If I donot know the subject well enogh then I keep quiet.
If your maple tree or your sister's, mother's maple tree has trouble, Edzard and I are happy to help you. ....mike

    Bookmark   January 5, 2005 at 10:28PM
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Hi all,
Yama-san, I thought the tsubo in "tsubo niwa" refers to another meaning of tsubo, not the unit of measurement, the meaning is "flowerpot". The "tsubo niwa" is a very small internal courtyard garden in "Machiya" style town houses so it was a kind of joke about the size.
Have you heard this?

    Bookmark   September 21, 2006 at 11:29AM
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yama(7b Ga)

Hi justin ^^
Sorry to respond to your post late.
For most Japanese, specialy old Japanese, tusbo is often use as mesurement. nowaday tusbo is no longer can use to mesure area. It is law. When I was middle school we are using tusbo [ now it is my turne to say " Oh well, When I was kid, things are different than today " It is hate and love to say " when I was kid~~~~~~~ surely I am getting old]
The word of Tusbo find in book of " Sansui nrabini nogata no zu" which is old as "Sakuteiki" The word of "Tusbo" is written katakana so it can be tusbo= flower vase or tsubo as small space.

To be called "Tsubo niwa" don't have to be only machiya stle house.

long time ago some said, Japanese house is same as Usagi goya = rabbit house.

Time of "Sansui narabini nogatano zu " was written, we had much more space to live( or much less population or both). I like Calfornia or New York salary and live in Georgia. We do have much more space than Masachusetts. I like big spaceous place so taht I can keep lot's of good junk stuff. ^^. ( it is not junk to me but some one is saying that I have too many of good junk ).

Have happy and safe Holidays.......................yama

    Bookmark   December 13, 2006 at 12:09AM
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