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Home > Lifestyle and Traditions > Wisdom of the Islanders: Making Use of the Climate > Dozen Caldera and Makihata Farming

Dozen Caldera and Makihata Farming


Makihata Walls Information Board (Chiburijima Island)

Makihata is a method of rotation farming that was practiced exclusively in the Oki Islands up until as recently as 1970. The stone walls that were used to delineate the fields can still be seen today in the Dozen Islands.


Remains of Makihata walls on Mt. Akahage (Chiburijima Island)

Makihata was developed in the Oki Islands as a means to sustainably utilize the typically mountainous and barren land. These are some of the features of Makihata.

  • Horses and cows were used for labor and to fertilize the soil.
  • Land restoration techniques included the cultivation of nutritive salts produced by root nodule bacteria.
  • Pulse (edible seeds of leguminous crops) was cultivated for use in manufactured food.
  • Crops were grown for famine relief including Japanese barnyard millet and foxtail millet (which are resistant to bad weather and infertile soil).
  • Cultivation of barley as a staple food.  

The land was delineated into wide fields which were rotated in a four-year, four-field cycle. This system allowed the land to be utilized all year round and cultivate the same crops every year without the land drying up. Similar methods of field rotation farming were conducted in the Middle Ages in Europe, however these were predominantly three-field cycles. Makihata was a vital innovation that enabled the Oki people to live alongside the land.


Example of a Makihata Crop Cycle

Points

  • Horses and cows were used for labor and to fertilize the soil.
  • Land restoration techniques included the cultivation of nutritive salts produced by root nodule bacteria.
  • Pulse (edible seeds of leguminous crops) was cultivated for use in manufactured food.

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