This paper reviewed some of the major study results published mainly in Japanese on swidden agriculture which was once practiced in Japan. In this review, a focus was placed on the natural environment in which swidden agriculture was practiced, cropping systems, crop cultivation in swidden fields, the transition of swidden agriculture at the end of the disappearing stage, and the utilization of millet cultivated in swidden agriculture. Swidden agriculture of temperate Japan featured cultivation primarily of millet, and was characterized by highly sophisticated and complex cropping systems according to the natural environment, which varied from one region to another. In the 1970s, however, swidden agriculture which had been continuously practiced as a primary means of subsistence in mountainous areas of Japan ceased to exist. Accordingly, the review will primarily focus on studies from the 1950s to 1970s, the post-war period in which a large number of research findings were produced from the perspectives of the humanities and natural sciences. The methodologies and perspectives adopted in the studies on Japanese swidden agriculture are definitely applicable to currently conducted studies of swidden agriculture in tropical regions.
2014 The Japan Society of Tropical Ecology