In this review article, the author examines from a critical viewpoint the recent achievements of Japanese geographers in the methodology and history of geographical thought in the broader sense. Works discussed in the previous review article of 1988 by Takeuchi and Nozawa are excluded from the present considerations. Rich achievements in the intellectual and social history of Japanese geographical thought and geographical knowledges in Japan are underlined. The strong influence of Western geographers in Japanese modern and contemporary geography is also mentioned.
This paper reviews major studies in historical geography in Japan published after 1988. After a brief summary of the recent trends in historical geography in Japan, the studies are reviewed under five headings: 1) Changes of rural landscape, 2) Urban transformation, 3) Population and migration, 4) Traffic and transportation, and 5) Religious and imagined world.
The author elucidates three distinct currents of research trends arising during the period 1980-1995 in Japanese cultural geography. First to be noted is the growing concern of the cultural geographer with methodological discussion on the culture concept in cultural geography and on its applicability to data organization in practical work. Next is the rejuvenation of traditional study of subsistence activities in the peasant society, in which a large proportion of Japanese cultural geographers have single-mindedly engaged, through the dominant influence of ethnoscience and the cognitive sciences during this period. And finally, cultural studies and other critical theories came to have an impact on the formation of new interest in the issues of the politics of culture and cultural representation in recent Japanese cultural geography.
This paper reviews the development of postwar mountain village studies in Japan with particular reference to the questions of depopulation, peripheralization, and village revitalization, and clarifies their achievements and directions for the future. Hitherto in geography the concept of mountain villages has often been determined in terms of location, natural features and cultural characteristics. This concept led geographers to focus their research only at the village level, even in the study of depopulation. In recent years, researchers have begun to look directly at depopulation as a regional problem and to do macro research on a national scale. After the rapid economic growth period, new structures for survival created by economic restructuring appeared in mountain villages. It became necessary to tackle mountain village research within a framework based on the theory of peripheralization. It is also important that mountain villages do not generally vanish in Peripheralization, but that attention is given to local measures for self-sufficiency referred to as village renaissance. This paper attempts to highlight these points and to take a fresh look at mountain village studies in Japan.
The postwar development of Japanese urban geography is divided into four periods. The amount of research in urban geography has increased, expanding study targets and analytical methods. With an increase in studies of urbanization in the 1950s, heated debate ensued and stimulated urban geographers, leading to the subsequent development of urban geography. There are two approaches, to regard a city as a specific point or as an area. The former is represented by studies on the central place and the urban system, while the latter is represented by studies on the internal structure of a city. These two have been dealt with almost equally by Japanese urban geographers. The trends of urban geography comprise the following points: an emphasis on the functional aspects; the introduction of more quantitative approaches; and an increase in the number of studies of foreign cities. Two points are indispensable for the further development of Japanese urban geography: controversy and theorization. The implications of the former are evident, judging from the role that debate played in the initial urbanization controversy. Clearly, progress cannot be made without dispute and debate. Theorization is equally important. Quantitative geography was originally oriented toward theory, although theorization can be accomplished without the use of a quantitative approach. Whether quantitative or nonquantitative approaches are taken depends on the attitude of researchers, but both provide Japanese urban geography, which has traditionally depended on imported foreign accomplishments for its development, with an opportunity to transmit information internationally.
Behavioral studies on environmental perception have been conducted by Japanese geographers since the 1970s, being stimulated by the studies in Anglophone countries. But most of the foreign geographers appear to know little about the development of Japanese research in this field. The aim of this paper is to introduce the behavioral studies on environmental perception in Japan to add their findings to the international inventory of behavioral geography. After briefly outlining the process of the development of behavioral geography in Japan, the empirical studies on environmental perception are reviewed dividing the subject into three aspects: designative aspects (e. g., information field, cognitive maps), appraisive aspects (e. g., evaluation of the environment, spatial preference), and developmental aspects (e. g., children's perception of the environment). It is shown that the major topics of this subject in Anglophone countries have also been discussed by Japanese geographers. Recently, however, non-behavioral approaches to environmental perception, such as humanistic or socio-cultural, have been increasing.
An alternative geographer, or a practitioner of social and economic geography who does not follow the conventional, has a curious habit of unconsciously performing pendulumlike swings: an alternative geographer grown within the institutional pigeon hole of geography first antagonises the conventional practice and seeks a more robust theoretical framework, drawing mainly upon Marxism, or more recently phenomenological philosophy. Eventually, however, he/she degenerates back into the exceptionalism and gives in to support the institution again or sometimes that at higher level. Japanese alternative geography has been particularly plagued with the repeated appearance of such pendulum-like swings since the pre-war period. This paper analyses the peculiar dialectics that gives rise to the curious swings through disciplinary discourse at meta-level; then it describes how this dialectic manifests itself in the developmental trajectory of Japanese alternative geography. The catch is that the practitioner of alternative him/herself is protected by the institution which supports the conventional. The struggle against the conventional is fought only among geographers' community within the institutional boundary, and serious and robust interdisciplinary intercourse with other disciplines of social science is scarce. Thus an alternative geographer has little opportunity to acquire level of comprehension of social and economic theories competent enough to stand alone in the competitive academic environment in general social science. This nature of alternative geography parasitic to the conventional eventually manifests itself in the conversion of an alternative geographer back to the support of the very conventional practices, into chanting for exceptionalism and seeking protection from the institution. On the other hand, the success of alternative geography which has been engaging in the society-and-space debate in the English-speaking countries lies in that they managed, via formulations of spatial theories that made geography a fully independent discipline of social science, to do away with the parasitism and to transcend this sort of eternal pendulum swings. They thus succeeded in discarding the paradoxical yearning for the institutional protection. It is now an urgent task for Japanese alternative geographers facing disciplinary crisis to learn more from this practice overseas, in order to establish higher esteem in the academic division of labour in general as well as that of geography in the international context.