Lifestyles and Traditions - Culture
Myōgaki stone walls seen on Mt. Akahage on Chiburijima Island and Onimai on Nishinoshima Island, were the boundaries of the fields used for Makihata rotation farming. Makihata is a unique rotation farming method practiced here on the islands until the late 1960s. The fields are divided by the stone walls, and are used as pasture and crop field, cultivating crops in the sequence of millets, soybeans and wheat etc, in a four-year cycle. By grazing cattle and horses, livestock manure will provide the fields with nutrients and make the field arable again.
Dōzen Caldera, formed by volcanic activity, is mentioned to be the background of the origin of Makihata rotation farming. Due to the scarcity of flatland and the thin and lean topsoil layer, this farming method was designed for efficient use of land and its nutrients. This farming method, which was born precisely because the islands are a caldera, is very similar to the three-field rotation farming method practiced in medieval Europe, but not often seen in other regions in Japan.