Over the long course of Japan's history, its people profited from their rich natural environment while simultaneously facing significant environmental challenges. Over time, they have altered their natural environment in numerous ways, from landscape modification to industrial pollution. How has the human–nature relationship changed over time in Japan? How does Japan's environmental history compare with that of other countries, or that of the world as a whole?
Environment and Society in the Japanese Islands attempts to answer these questions through a series of case studies by leading Japanese and Western historians, geographers, archaeologists, and climatologists. These essays, on diverse topics from all periods of Japanese history and prehistory, are unified by their focus on the key concepts of "resilience" and "risk mitigation." Taken as a whole, they place Japan's experience in global context and call into question the commonly presumed division between pre-modern and modern environmental history.
Primarily intended for scholars and students in fields related to Japan or environmental history, these accessibly-written essays will be valuable to anyone wishing to learn about the historical roots of today's environmental issues or the complex relationship between human society and the natural environment.
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Philip C. Brown (Ph.D., University of Pennsylvania, 1981) is Professor of History at The Ohio State University, Columbus, Ohio. He is a specialist in early modern and modern Japanese history and focuses on developments affecting rural Japan. He is author of Central Authority and Local Autonomy in the Formation of Early Modern Japan: The Case of Kaga Domain (Stanford University Press, 1993) and Cultivating Commons: Joint Ownership of Arable Land in Early Modern Japan (University of Hawai'i Press, 2011). His current research examines Japan's changing response to flood and landslide risk in the nineteenth through twentieth centuries.
Bruce L. Batten (Ph.D., Stanford University, 1989) is Professor of Japanese History at J. F. Oberlin University in Tokyo and the former director of the Inter-University Center for Japanese Language Studies in Yokohama. He is a specialist on ancient and medieval Japan and is the author of To the Ends of Japan: Premodern Frontiers, Boundaries, and Interactions (University of Hawai'i Press, 2003) and Gateway to Japan: Hakata in War and Peace, 500-1300 (University of Hawai'i Press, 2006). He is currently writing a book-length survey of Japanese environmental history and prehistory.