In this Book

Japan at Nature's Edge
summary
Japan at Nature’s Edge is a timely collection of essays that explores the relationship between Japan’s history, culture, and physical environment. It greatly expands the focus of previous work on Japanese modernization by examining Japan’s role in global environmental transformation and how Japanese ideas have shaped bodies and landscapes over the centuries. Given the global and immediate nature of Earth’s environmental crisis, a predicament highlighted by Japan’s March 2011 disaster, it brings a sense of urgency to the study of Japan and its global connections.

The work is an environmental history in the broadest sense of the term because it contains writing by environmental anthropologists, a legendary Japanese economist, and scholars of Japanese literature and culture. The editors have brought together an unparalleled assemblage of some of the finest scholars in the field who, rather than treat Japan in isolation or as a unique cultural community, seek to connect Japan to global environmental currents such as whaling, world fisheries, mountaineering and science, mining and industrial pollution, and relations with nonhuman animals.

The contributors assert the importance of the environment in understanding Japan’s history and propose a new balance between nature and culture, one weighted much more heavily on the side of natural legacies. Ideas and culture do shape the natural world, because it, like the poetry of Heian aristocrats, has become a relic of history. This approach does not discount culture. Instead, it suggests that the Japanese experience of nature, like that of all human beings, is a complex and intimate negotiation between the physical and cultural worlds.

Contributors: Daniel P. Aldrich, Jakobina Arch, Andrew Bernstein, Philip C. Brown, Timothy S. George, Jeffrey E. Hanes, David L. Howell, Federico Marcon, Christine L. Marran, Ian Jared Miller, Micah Muscolino, Ken’ichi Miyamoto, Sara B. Pritchard, Julia Adeney Thomas, Karen Thornber, William M. Tsutsui, Brett L. Walker, Takehiro Watanabe.

Ian Jared Miller teaches modern Japanese history at Harvard University. Julia Adeney Thomas is associate professor of history at the University of Notre Dame. Brett L. Walker is Regents Professor at Montana State University, Bozeman.

Table of Contents

  1. Cover
  2. pp. 1-1
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  1. Title Page, Copyright
  2. pp. 2-9
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  1. Contents
  2. pp. ix-x
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  1. Preface
  2. pp. xi-xiv
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  1. Writing Japan at Nature’s Edge: The Promises and Perils of Environmental History
  2. pp. 1-18
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  1. Part I: Oceans and Empires
  2. pp. 19-20
  1. Chapter 1. The Pelagic Empire: Reconsidering Japanese Expansion
  2. pp. 21-38
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  1. Chapter 2. From Meat to Machine Oil: The Nineteenth-Century Development of Whaling in Wakayama
  2. pp. 39-55
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  1. Chapter 3. Fisheries Build Up the Nation: Maritime Environmental Encounters between Japan and China
  2. pp. 56-70
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  1. Part II: Changing Landscapes
  2. pp. 71-72
  1. Chapter 4. Talking Sulfur Dioxide: Air Pollution and the Politics of Science in Late Meiji Japan
  2. pp. 73-89
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  1. Chapter 5. Constructing Nature
  2. pp. 90-114
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  1. Chapter 6. Toroku: Mountain Dreams, Chemical Nightmares
  2. pp. 115-134
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  1. Part III: Between Bodies
  2. pp. 135-136
  1. Chapter 7. Fecal Matters: Prolegomenon to a History of Shit in Japan
  2. pp. 137-151
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  1. Chapter 8. Weathering Fuji: Marriage, Meteorology, and the Meiji Bodyscape
  2. pp. 152-174
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  1. Chapter 9. Animal Histories: Stranger in a Tokyo Canal
  2. pp. 175-186
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  1. Part IV: Vistas and Vantage Points
  2. pp. 187-188
  1. Chapter 10. Inventorying Nature: Tokugawa Yoshimune and the Sponsorship of Honzōgaku in Eighteenth-Century Japan
  2. pp. 189-206
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  1. Chapter 11. Japanese Literature and Environmental Crises
  2. pp. 207-221
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  1. Chapter 12. Japanese Environmental Policy: Lessons from Experience and Remaining Problems
  2. pp. 222-252
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  1. Part V: The Triple Disaster of 3/11
  2. pp. 253-254
  1. Chapter 13. An Envirotechnical Disaster: Negotiating Nature, Technology, and Politics at Fukushima
  2. pp. 255-279
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  1. Chapter 14. Postcrisis Japanese Nuclear Policy: From Top-down Directives to Bottom-up Activism
  2. pp. 280-292
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  1. Chapter 15. Using Japan to Think Globally: The Natural Subject of History and Its Hopes
  2. pp. 293-310
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  1. List of Contributors
  2. pp. 311-314
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  1. Index
  2. pp. 315-322
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