This paper examines the reciprocal relationship between the representation of landscape in Japan and the development of modern Japanese tourism. Starting from the development of modern domestic tourism in the Meiji period, the idea of the “modern” landscape in Japan was, and still is today, closely linked to the concept of Japanese nature and the formation of a national identity. The following gives an overview of how the concept of landscape is connoted in tourism research and addresses how the image of the authentic rural area and its scenery is repeatedly (re-)produced in advertising materials of the Japanese tourism industry. It further discusses to what extent modern tourism in Japan has contributed to popularizing a new “view” on landscapes and how it helped with “inscribing Japaneseness” in rural landscapes over the course of time.
Tonari no Totoro is considered a genuinely Japanese anime movie, not only because of its shōjo aesthetics and its nostalgia for the countryside lifestyle of the early post-war period, but also for its references to spirituality and environmentalism, which are nowadays interpreted in the context of satoyama. This concept combines academic studies on environmental conservation with a national ideology of “the Japanese” living in harmony with nature since ancient times. Ironically, Tonari no Totoro offers no clear references to environmentalism. The connection between the movie and satoyama was retrospectively established in the 2000s as a result of its eco-nostalgic depiction of a perfect rural past, which I call an “absolute satoyama.” The vision of this “absolute satoyama” even became the driving force of a forest conservation NPO in the suburbs of Greater Tōkyō. This NPO’s activities and recent fame subsequently reinforced the interpretation of Tonari no Totoro as an environmental movie reflecting on Japanese traditions of satoyama.
This paper studies the present-day literary production in the prefecture of Iwate. A look back to the dawn of the 20th century shows that some similarities are still in place: self-publishing, regional and prefectural awards for local literature and publishing through local newspapers. Also, the local outlets still seem to have mostly a local audience in mind. However, in the last years some authors from and in Iwate have managed not only to make a living from their profession, but also to reach the national market and win the most prestigious literary prizes. This paper points out the main actors and institutions in Iwate’s literary scene and sheds light on the conditions that facilitated certain changes. Thus, this case study adds to the efforts of delineating ‘peripheral’ cultural production and bringing it to the centre of attention.
This article is about the usage of images of nature, in particular of landscape images, in car advertising for the Japanese domestic market. It offers an in-depth look at a selection of advertising films for the Toyota Crown from the years 1963 to 2013, to highlight how the relationship between the car, its user/s, and their “natural” surroundings is being depicted in these films, and to what degree the depictions have changed over this fifty year timespan. The first film in this selection is still visibly carried by an ideology that sets human technological ingenuity against the forces of an inherently hostile nature, but many of the other examples insinuate a far more harmonious relationship between machine and nature, where the car virtually becomes one with its natural surroundings. Another recurring theme is the commodification of nature’s spaces as a setting for the leisure activities of Japan’s urbanites, with the car as an intrinsic part of the enjoyment. But with a growing public awareness in Japan of environmental issues, and with the introduction of environmentally less harmful technologies around the turn of the century, a different image of nature is fostered, an inversion of the power relations seen in the first film. This time, nature appears as the vulnerable element, and the destructive potential lies with humanity. And again, the redeeming feature is the car industry’s prowess in reining in this destructive potential. However, approaches like this remain an exception to the rule. In general, nature continues to be objectified as before, employed solely for its aesthetic qualities, as an appealing backdrop for the image of the car in motion.