Se (畝; a unit of land area) or Une (畝; ridges in a field) ()

Se or Une (畝)

(Se, also called ho)

A unit of land area.


: "Une" refers to ridges in a field, or rows of a long and narrow mound for cultivating agricultural products, running in parallel with a space in between. In English, it is also called hilling or hill. In Japanese, une is verbalized into uneru, which means, (a road) to wind in and out or (a wave) to surge.

Se (or ho) as a unit

Se (or ho) is a unit of land area in East Asian system of weights and measures. Though using the same Chinese character (畝), the Japanese unit and the Chinese unit are completely different in reading ('se' in Japanese and 'ho' in Chinese), in size, and in origin. But both of them seem to have originated from une in a field.

Se in Japan

Se as the Japanese unit is simply a unit of multiples of tsubo (bu) and 1 se is equal to 30 bu. And 10 se is equal to 1 tan (a unit). In the Meiji period, 1 shaku (a Japanese unit of length) was set at 10 over 33 meter, so 1 bu (calculated by multiplying 6 shaku by 6 shaku) was roughly equal to 3.305785 square meters, so 1 se became about 99.174 square meters. This figure is quite close to 1 are (a unit) equivalent to 100 square meters, so the switch of se into are (unit) of the metric system was quite smooth.

Se in China

Se (ho or mu in pinyin) as the Chinese unit was in ancient times the square measure of the area that had sides of 10 bu (here, bu is a unit of length, and 1 bu is 6 shaku) or 100 square meters (3600 square shaku ['chi' in pinyin]). Later, 1 se was reset at 120 times the size of the area with sides of 5 shaku. Although the square measure of 1 se varied according as the length of 1 shaku itself varied from time to time, 1 se was roughly equal to 6 ares.

In the present Chinese system of measurement, a 15th hectares (about 6.67 ares) is equalized with 1 se. The Chinese character 畝 is also applied to the unit of acre which is used in the yard-pound system, and so, to make a distinction, the unit of the Chinese system is called shi mu in pinyin and the unit of the yard-pound system is called ying mu in pinyin.

Une in a field
Une in a field is the mounds made for cultivating agricultural products. Mostly, the purpose of making une is to prevent seedlings and other agricultural products from withering owing to the wind.

Une is made with a shovel, a hoe, a cultivator, or a tractor.

Usually, une is remade when crops are reaped and the new ones are planted. This is called une-gae (remaking of une).

Whether it is necessary to make une in the first place and how the une should be made depends on the kind of products and the condition of soil.

When the products are grown other than winter, une is made from south and to north. The temperature is high enough and there is no need to warm the soil. But in winter, the sunshine alone is sometimes not enough to warm up the soil, so une is made from east to west so that the soil can bask in the long sunshine.

Une is often made in the following cases.
The case that the soil is poorly drained
The case that the product has a root tuber, or a tuber (such as potato)
The case that a product with a strong stem is grown (such as leek)
The case that other products (such as chicory) are grown

Among others, potato is the typical agricultural product which is grown in une.

A tuber of potato grows underground, and when it is exposed to the sunshine, it produces chlorophyll and solanine. Solanine is as harmful to the human body as to cause you nausea, a headache, and in a serious case, death. Therefore, when potato is in the growth period, une is made; in other words, the tuber is covered with soil, not to be discarded.

Shape of une
There are two types of une in shape, the mountain type and the plateau type.

The mountain type is made by heaping up earth like a mountain. The mountaintop is flattened out. The flattened area is not so wide as the plateau type, so this mountain type is applied to the root crops and the like, which are easy to dig up for the shape of une.

Occasionally, une should be remade if soil crumbles as the product grows.

Meanwhile, the plateau type is made by heaping up earth in the shape of a plateau. This type has no side slope, so it is not easy to dig up the root crops.

[Original Japanese]