Accepted paper:

We just want to be, staying here … Life, social vulnerability and resilience in a depopulating hamlet


Johannes Wilhelm (Kumamoto University)

Paper short abstract:

This paper describes the impact of population decline on the lumber village Yagisawa in Kamikoani (Akita Pref). By drawing on the thoughts of those left behind and those who have left the hamlet, it challenges popular views as embodied by the terms of ‚marginal villages' or ‚abandoned regions'.

Paper long abstract:

People in remote settlements of Japan's peripheries had already been aware of the rising threat of depopulation from the beginning of the 1960s. This paper features Yagisawa, a lumber village in the municipality of Kamikoani (Akita Prefecture) and describes the stages and factors leading to the current state. The descriptions are enriched with viewpoints of present inhabitants as well as those who already left their hamlet by following an emic observation strategy. It will be shown that depopulation and the breakdown of core community functions are rather a discrete process and thus challenging popular views such as has been embodied by the terms of ‚marginal villages' (genkai shūraku; Ōno 2005) or ‚abandoned regions' (chihō shōmetsu; Masuda 2014).

panel S1_05
Fractured rurality in contemporary Japan