Online ISSN : 2432-096X
Print ISSN : 0286-4886
A Reappraisal of Tsunesaburo Makiguchi's Jinsei Chirigaku in the History of Geography in Japan
Toshihiro OKADA
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1994 Volume 49 Issue 4 Pages 197-212


In Japan, the academism geography came into existence after the creation of the courses of geography at the Imperial University of Kyoto in 1907 and at the Imperial University of Tokyo in 1911. In the history of geographical study before that time, Tsunesaburo Makiguchi (1871-1944)'s Jinsei Chirigaku (Geography of Human Lives, 1903) represented the highest achievement. Since Makiguchi was a teacher of elementary school and normal school at the time when he wrote this book, its own purpose was to improve geography teaching. In those days of Japan, however, both the education and the study of geography were not specialized. Therefore, Makiguchi thought himself that they were directly connected with each other. For this reason, the purpose of this book was not only improvement in teaching geography at school, but also enlightenment of the public in general and social advancement. Makiguchi beated his brains about this book and wrote it during the period between the Sino-Japanese War (1894-1895) and the Russo-Japanese War (1904-1905). During that period, the conflict between Japan and Western countries came up to the surface, because Japan committed the aggressive act of invasion against the East Asian countries. In the state of these affairs, Makiguchi took a stand against the ultra-nationalism of Shigetaka Shiga (1863-1927) and the philanthropism of Kanzo Uchimura (1861-1930), furthermore he was closely related with some socialists for a while. Then he groped for his own thoughts. In the first and the second chapter of this book, he stated problems from the point of view of environmentalism. It was a general tendency of geographical study of those days. However, as he stated plainly that the quality of man-land relationship varies with the differences of cultural level, his advanced ideas are worthy of note. His description of the relationship between sea and human life, is especially vivid. That results from his experience of living in the districts along the shores of the Japan Sea: Niigata prefecture (Kashiwazaki) and Hokkaido (Otaru and Sapporo). The main subject of this book is in the third chapter. The subject has a deep significance, above all, present-day significance because he studied economic geography, social geography, and political geography from the viewpoint of both the theory on distribution and location theory. Especially, it is worthy of note that he introduced the isolated state by von Thunen for geographical study for the first time in Japan. However, he did not faithfully introduce the original. He tried to absorb it in due consideration of the application of a principle to practice. His method of study made a special feature of the intention of application and practice, and also the tendency to practical science. As mentioned above, this book took the initiative in the study of human geography, and had a deep significance of present day. Non-academism geographers praised this book very much, on the other hand, academism geographers treated lightly or ignored this book. Michitoshi Odauchi (1875-1954) was a human geographer of non-government school factions after the times when the academism geography came into existence. Odauchi was active with Makiguchi in Kyodo-kai (the society for rural studies, 1910-about 1919; 1927-1931), of which key person was Inazo Nitobe (1862-1933). Nevertheless, Odauchi had not referred to this book. Probably because it gives such suggestions that the academism geography did not much succeed to the outcome of the pre-academism geography in Japan.

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