National Geographic : 1947 Apr
499 Backwoods Japan During American Occupation packet of pure white salt from an Army 10-in-1 ration. One day, while walk ing through some cut over hillsides, we came upon a charcoal burner and his wife about lunchtime, just as they had finished filling the straw bales with newly made charcoal. The kiln was already smoking with another charge of charcoal. The man and his wife bowed low as our Japa nese forester guide ex plained that we were foresters from General MacArthur's head quarters. ; .. Eating Canned Beans with Chopsticks The man seemed to growl to his wife, and she disappeared into a weathered wooden house. She soon reappeared with some cups and a small teakettle which she placed over a glow ing charcoal fire on the ground near the kiln. The man had in the meantime arranged several blocks of wood for us to sit on. As the wife poured out the tea for us, we tookoutourCandK Tin Can on a Stick Ladles a Brine Sample By evaporating sea water, peacetime Japan produced a third of its salt re quirements. Defeat aggravated the shortage; much salt fled to the black market. American exports helped relieve the scarcity. This woman's larger cask contains sand for filtering (pages 496 and 498). rations and offered some C's to the couple. The woman giggled and looked at her husband, who told her to go into the house again. He would not accept the rations until our guide told him to do so. Although it was not easy to identify the feelings of the Japs by their facial expressions, there seemed to be no doubt about the enjoy ment this one felt at using his freshly cut chopsticks on a can of beans and sausage. As we ate, he told us how he and his wife cut the oak and other hardwood trees on the slopes around his house, brought in the trunks and branches on their backs, and stacked the wood carefully inside the clay kiln with proper openings to the drafts in the top and sides of the kiln (page 503). It took four or five days to complete the charring and another two to let the kiln cool. The charcoal was then placed in straw bales of about 33 or 66 pounds each. He pointed out that he cut the trees so that they would sprout from the remaining stumps and in five to six years provide another cut for charcoal. Bales of Charcoal Carried on Backs He and his wife carried the bales of char coal on their backs to the logging station of the national forest, some three or four miles away, and at such times saw other people. We asked what he would do when his children would be big enough to go to school. He answered that he did not know.