A facilitator of the groundwater session of the Third World Water Forum commented that ‘Water is culture.′ Though water is a natural substance, it does not exist independently of humans because humans interact with nature. If we define culture as everything substantiated by human interaction, water is surely a part of culture. Nowadays a center of water issues is shifting from the realm of science to the realm of humans. Including environmental problems, issues that involve the value could not be treated by contemporary science based on Cartesian dualism. New science is necessitated, which would step into the problem of value. ‘Water is culture′ is raised here as an example to step into the problem of value in water issues.
This paper discusses research trends in the history of geography and social and cultural geography in Japan since the late 1970s with attention to their institutional contexts. The 24th International Geographical Congress held in Tokyo led to the emergence of several informal and formal research groups concerning the history of geography and social and cultural geography. These groups acted as incubators in which the articulation between new trends in the Anglophone world and conventional research agendas shared by Japanese geographers triggered an interconnected renovation of the historiography of geography and social and cultural geography. Japanese historians of geography increasingly paid attention to non-academic as well as academic geographical thought and practices in Japan, in addition to the traditional tendency to deal with the thought of distinguished geographers in the West. New themes such as “critical history of geography” and “historical geography of geography” were also being taken seriously. Japanese geographers’ concern with humanistic geography developed diversely, on the one hand articulating with traditional research topics, and on the other, generating new interests in themes such as “geography and literature” or “sensuous geographies.” Since the late 1980s, younger social and cultural geographers have been more than ever tackling issues around the “cultural turn” in Anglophone human geography, the “spatial turn” in social science and the multiple aspects of modernity. These research trends are not fully based on “imported scholarship,” nor should they be replaced by “indigenous development.” Texts produced by Japanese geographers may retain the same intertextuality and hybridity as those produced by Western geographers do.