Study Groups and Achievements

Arrangement and Systematization of the Environment and Scenery

Task 2: Research on Environmental Recognition and Its Changes

The working group for “Research on Environmental Recognition and its Changes” initially intended to investigate the transition in environmental recognition among mountain villages in eastern and western Japan.

To this end, the following areas were chosen as research targets: Niogauchi, which is located in Tachikawa, Ōtoyo-cho, Nagaoka District, Kōchi in western Japan; and a village in the mountains of Akazawa, which is located in Shinano-cho, Kamiminochi District, Nagano in eastern Japan. The two areas share the common feature of having once been dependent on slash-and-burn agriculture and hunting. Focusing on the changes in people’s lives in the 50 years surrounding the period of rapid economic growth in Japan, when the most dramatic changes were seen in the lives of the Japanese people, investigations were conducted by studying oral traditions and making comparisons with the current situation. Research was started with the grand design of compiling a full report on the results gained from the investigations.

However, in the autumn of the second year of the COE program, the Niogauchi area, the research target for western Japan, was hit by a typhoon which completely destroyed the area’s mud-control dam and caused extensive damage. We had no choice but to suspend our investigations, and it took two years for the village to recover to some degree from the aftermath. At the same time, research in eastern Japan was also interrupted due to circumstances affecting the researchers.

During the latter two years, we also carried out a joint research project with archaeologists studying the environment in Kamakura during the times of the Kamakura shogunate, but the participation of our researchers in this task was limited to one year. In the final year of the COE program, we attempted to develop ideas for future research based on the materials and results gained through our research and investigations

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