This open panel provides a forum for discussing ecotourism and rural tourism in Japan. The main discussions of this panel will be sustainable development, local revitalization and natural conservation. Speakers from all countries are welcome.
This panel discusses the future vista of anthropology of nature-society relationship in Japan. Japan is a unique case in Asia, a country that has witnessed rapid economic development in the postwar phase, serious pollution incidents, surprisingly rapid cleanup and restoration of the landscape, rural depopulation, and a continuing growth of various 'localized', 'rural' and 'nature conservation' perspectives. As the country faces another critical juncture in its history, in the aftermath of the Tsunami and Fukushima disasters, it is particularly important to assess the aims and scopes of such trends. This panel features a series of papers on the themes of rural revitalization and ecotourism--two themes that have generated scholarly and policymaking interest as prospective countermeasures against demographic transition. Japanese countryside areas, most of which are considered 'remote' due to a lack of urban and industrial infrastructure, and are predominated by mountainous landscapes--retain important natural resources for a society that must find a way beyond industrial modernization. In this sense, ecotourism and rural revitalization schemes have been identified as focal areas to generate knowledge for 'sustainable living' and popularize a low impact lifestyle. But while such initiatives are regularly lauded for their potential of resisting decline, how do they signify a general social transition in 21st Century Japan--and with what ramifications to its culture and lifestyle? Through 8 different case studies located in 8 different regions, the panel aims to provide an anthropological perspective to this ongoing change.