koku [Japanese]

Literally translated from the Japanese, “bale.”


In Japan, 16th – 20th (UN 1966) centuries, a unit of capacity = 100 shō = 10 to, legally defined in 1891 as ²⁴⁰¹⁰⁰⁄₁₃₃₁ liters, approximately 180.39 liters or about 5.12 U.S. bushels. link to a table showing relationships between Japanese units of capacity

In feudal Japan, the incomes of samurai were measured in koku of rice. A koku of rice was considered to be the amount needed to feed one man for one year. To be a daimyo, a samurai needed an annual income of 10,000 or more koku; an income between 100 and 9,500 koku made one a hatamoto, and an income of less than 100 koku made one a go-kenin. Levies were based on income in koku. For example, according to the rules of 1649, a hatamoto with an income of 300 koku per year would have to supply one go-kenin samurai, one spearman, one armor-bearer, one groom, one sandal-bearer, one hasamibako-bearer, one baggage carrier and himself.

As with other measures of agricultural commodities, in modern times the koku tended to be assigned standardized weights: 187.5 kilograms of rough rice, 150 kg of brown rice or 136.5 kg of milled rice.¹

1. Rice Almanac. (2002)


One koku (5.119 United States Winchester bushels)...

George H. Skidmore.
American Wheat Flour and Rice in Chosen.
U.S. Dept. of Commerce, Bureau of Foreign and Domestic Commerce.
Daily Consular and Trade Reports.
Nos. 75-151; Volume 2; April, May and June 1913.
Washington: U.S.G.P.O., 1913.
Page 268. Report 87, April 15, 1913.


In Japan, 20th century, a unit of capacity equal to 10 cubic shaku, approximately 278.26 liters. Mainly used for lumber.

United Nations, 1966.


In Japan, 20th century, a unit of mass used in loading ships, equal to 1/10 ton.

A Pocket Guide to Japan.
Page 83.


In Japan, 20th century, a unit of mass used for fish = 40 kan = 150 kilograms.

A Pocket Guide to Japan.
Page 83.


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