This paper explains the dispute over the research at Isigami hamlet, referring to both published and unpublished documents, and tries to make some suggestions to rural studies. Isigami hamlet was a study site of the monograph of Aruga Kizaemon, who is said to have established Japanese rural sociology examining this hamlet. This dispute was between an economic historian at University of Tokyo Tutiya Takao, who was also Aruga’s co-researcher, and Huse Tatuzi, who was a human rights lawyer.
We came to conclude that Tutiya’s positivist attitude trying to grasp the ‘nago（serf）’ system using his survey data can be highly evaluated, although he had a rather strong tendency for hypothetical thoughts. Furthermore, his careful use of concept is worth a mention. It also became clear that Huse had made important arguments （for example about the forest commons and the conception of poverty）although his use of concept was ambiguous. These arguments are surely appropriate and helpful for people who wants to learn about the research by Tutiya and Aruga. In addition, the amethodology of survey and the epistemology discussed by Huse include pioneering points of view that are worth being referred to in rural studies.
Both Tutiya and Huse had argued in a serious manner based on their own data and experiences, without labeling each other. Despite their efforts, their different standpoints lead to different interpretations of the facts. Tutiya tried to consider the theoretical problems raised by the ‘controversy over Japanese capitalism,’ that is, ‘whether feudalism is still existed or not.’ Huse participated in liberation movement of peasants as a lawyer, rather than as a researcher who was concerned with theoretical dimension. In this way, they were trying to see their different aspects of the ‘nago（serf）’system and peasants’ life. In other words, the different interpretations of the facts were caused due to their different viewpoints.
Most activities for the reinvigoration of farming and mountain villages try to connect external economic power such as top-down public investment, industrial invigoration utilizing regional resources, and exchanges with urban citizens. However, these actions produce negative effects, such as the destruction of the regional environment and basically leaving local residents feeling exhausted. Therefore the focus should be on the ordinary everyday lives of villagers for sustainable and internal reinvigoration. In this paper, I focus on the social interaction of a temple as a resource embedded in the everyday life of a region and investigate its effect on residents and their happiness. According to a questionnaire carried out in Ayado Town, Toyota City, Aichi Prefecture, the main reasons why people choose to live in this area are because of its “nice environment,” and because “it is my home,” the primary factors indicating happiness being “mutual aid, strong bonds,” and a “nice environment.” The main occasions emphasizing this “mutual aid, strong bonds” were events such as ceremonies. The importance of Heishoji, where many of these events take place, was confirmed during this research. The number of events was previously in decline due to the absence of a priest in Heishoji. When a new priest came in he set about preserving and growing the events held at the temple. In particular, the “Yonenbutsu” and “Bon-Odori” events gave the priest high regard in Ayado and created deep bonds between residents. The villager’s autonomous financial system for the ceremony of Kannon of Heishoji is creating strong bonds equal to its financial usefulness. These events and this system no doubt contribute to regional activity and construct important conditions for the reinvigoration of the region.
Shonai region of Yamagata prefecture is, as is well known, one of the prominent rice farming districts in Japan. Perhaps because of this characteristic of the region, not so many farmers’ markets were opened in this region until recently. That is to say, vegetables, fruits, flowers and the like, to be sold in farmers’ markets, were not produced so much. However, from around 2000, farmers’ markets came to be founded in various places of Shonai region. Many of these farmers’ markets have been established and managed by woman farmers. Our research on some cases in Shonai region shows evidently that these farmer’s markets have improved the women’s status in the farmer’s Ie（farming families）.