Purpose: This study investigated how traditional and ecological knowledge (TEK) has been lost or inherited in transformed manners.
Method: We performed a systematic literature review on the following three topics associated with TEK in Japan: beekeeping and honey production, relationships among knowledge systems in shiitake mushroom production, and geographical indication (GI) scheme and knowledge sharing in the case of an edible plant called Tonburi.
Results: This study showed that TEK is not static but, rather, is extremely dynamic. Diverse approaches, such as traditional educational methods, the use of branding, and promoting regional brands, can be used to address depopulation in local communities. Native beekeeping is important for promoting sustainable forestry and conserving biodiversity. In shiitake mushroom production, TEK and its associated techniques can be useful, but they can also present obstacles to the adoption of new technology. GI shared TEK with newcomers in the case of Tonburi.
Discussion: To minimize a decline in the value of TEK in local communities, the development of a system that reminds local people of the ways in which TEK is relevant and valuable to them could offer an effective solution to local depopulation. We suggest that a shift from maintenance and conservation of TEK to regeneration and creation can be beneficial to a society where TEK is an inherent part of the community.