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June 07, 2004

身の丈サイズ


Copyright (C) 2004 e-Shopping! Books CORP.

今日は「計量記念日」。計量法が制定されたことにより、古来の尺貫法が正式になくなった日でもある。とはいえ、現代においても「1升」などは使われているので、まだまだおなじみのもの。
この単位「1升」はお米を両手ですくった量で、「1石」は一年に一人の大人が食べる米の量。その米が取れる田んぼの広さが「1反」。昔の日本の単位は、こんな風に「身の丈」に合わせたサイズで物事を測っていた。

時間の単位も同様。「一刻を争う」と言えばもう抜き差しならない緊急事態な気がするが、江戸時代の時刻制度で言えばなんと「14分24秒」。もう大急ぎでもこれくらいなので、非常にゆったりまったりな生活だったのだろう。
仕組みは、明け前と夕暮れ時を基準にして、昼を6等分・夜を6等分する。この等分されたものを「一ツ」として数え、なぜか九ツから始まり四ツまでいき、その後急に九ツに戻るのくりかえしというもの(現代に残っている「おやつ」という言葉は、この「八ツ」が語源)。当然のことながら、夏と冬では一ツの長さが変わるので、冬の労働時間はすごく短くなる。いわば、究極のサマータイム。複雑なようでいて、電灯のない時代においては非常にわかりやすく合理的だったと思う。

今日のニュースで待って25分待たせて17分 セイコー時の記念日調査(Yahoo!ニュース・共同通信)というのがあったが、江戸時代で言えば17分待たせたところでしょせん「一刻」。遅刻の言い訳に使えそうね・・・(ダメ?)

最近は「ドッグ・イヤー」とか「秒刻みのスケジュール」がイケてると思っている人も多そうだが、本当に身の丈に合っているのかはちゃんと考えた方がよさそう。反面、そこかしこで「スローライフ」とか「スローでいこう」とかいう言葉を聞くが、これはこれで微妙・・・(快楽生活の追求という点だけは、同意)。単に日本におけるこのコトバの仕掛け方とメディアの問題かもしれないけどね。

※ 今日のような話は、ニッポンのサイズ(石川英輔/著)に詳しい。

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