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The Green Archipelago

Forestry in Pre-Industrial Japan

Conrad Totman

Publication Year: 1989

Every foreign traveler in Japan is delighted by the verdant forest-shrouded mountains that thrust skyward from one end of the island chain to the other. The Japanese themselves are conscious of the lush green of their homeland, which they sometimes refer to as "the green archipelago." Yet, based on its fragile geography and centuries of extremely dense human occupation, Japan today should be an impoverished, slum-ridden, peasant society subsisting on a barren, eroded moonscape characterized by bald mountains and debris-strewn lowlands.

In fact, as Conrad Totman argues in this pathbreaking work based on prodigious research, this lush verdue is not a monument to nature's benevolence and Japanese aesthetic sensibilities, but the hard-earned result of generations of human toil that have converted the archipelago into one great forest preserve. Indeed, the author shows that until the late 1600s Japan was well on her way to ecological disaster due to exploitative forestry. During the Tokugawa period, however, an extraordinary change took place resulting in a system of "regenerative forestry" that averted the devastation of Japan's forests. The Green Archipelago is the only major Western-language work on this subject and a landmark not only in Japanese history, but in the history of the environment.

Published by: University of California Press

Title Page, Copyright

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pp. 1-7

Contents

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pp. vii-viii

Illustrations

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pp. ix-11

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Preface

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pp. xi-xiii

More and more our choices on this planet appear to be fire or ice: the fire of nuclear holocaust or the ice of environmental catastrophe. In both choices the heart of the problem is our continued domination by anachronistic attitudes that blind us to an essential truth:...

A Brief Chronology

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pp. xiv-15

Maps

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pp. xv-xxii

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Introduction: An Overview of Preindustrial Japanese Forest History

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pp. 1-6

Every foreign traveler in Japan is delighted by the verdant forestshrouded mountains that thrust skyward from one end of the island chain to the other.1 The Japanese themselves are conscious of the lush green of their homeland, which they sometimes refer to as...

Part One. A Millennium of Exploitation Forestry

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pp. 7-31

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Chapter One. The Ancient Predation, 600-850

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pp. 9-33

The ancient predation was the first of three periods of severe deforestation in Japan's history. The other two were the early modern, which occurred from 1570 to 1670, and the modern, of the first half of the twentieth century. The first predation was the least severe of...

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Chapter Two. Forests and Forestry in Medieval Japan, 1050—1550

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pp. 34-49

During the ancient predation Japan's rulers consumed woodland in central Honshu at an exorbitant rate. Subsequently, forest exploitation stabilized in less intense harvesting that continued until the late sixteenth century, when a second, far more rapacious, phase of...

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Chapter Three. Timber Depletion during the Early Modern Predation,1570-1670

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pp. 50-80

The early modern predation was essentially the ancient predation writ large. Once again a ruling elite launched a vast construction boom that produced great monuments and cities. This time, however, the elite spanned the realm and in pursuit of its objectives had...

Part Two. The Emergence of Regenerative Forestry in Early Modern Japan

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pp. 81-105

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Chapter Four. The Negative Regimen: Forest Regulation

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pp. 83-115

The earliest historical evidence of woodland management in Japan dates from the ancient predation. After a couple of centuries such management appears to have fallen into desuetude, however, not reviving until the 14005 and 15005, when villagers and subsequently...

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Chapter Five. Silviculture: Its Principles and Practice

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pp. 116-129

The timber scarcity that emerged in seventeenth-century Japan gave rise to a negative regimen whose primary function was to keep forests producing wood for the ruling elite's cities, monuments, and treasuries. Difficulties in provisioning persisted, however, which fostered...

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Chapter Six. Plantation Forestry: Economic Aspects of Its Emergence

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pp. 130-148

Plantation silviculture became widespread in Japan during the latter half of the eighteenth century.1 Following the early modern predation, demand for forest yield continued to exceed supply, and afforestation and eventually plantation silviculture developed to meet that...

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Chapter Seven. Land-Use Patterns and Afforestation

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pp. 149-169

During the seventeenth century, overconsumption of forest products, timber in particular, generated problems that led to the creation of the negative regimen, whose central element was an elaborate countrywide system of forest management. That system may have prevented...

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Conclusion

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pp. 171-190

This study opened with the suggestion that Japan today should be an impoverished, slum-ridden, peasant society subsisting on an eroded moonscape, rather than a wealthy, dynamic, highly industrialized society living on a luxuriant, green archipelago. We would predict...

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Bibliographical Essay: Scholarship on Preindustrial Japanese Forestry, 1880—1980

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pp. 191-214

This study is the first extended report in English on preindustrial Japanese forestry.1 Because it is a pioneer effort, some of its findings surely will be revised by subsequent scholarship. As perusers of notes will have observed, it relies heavily on the work of Japanese...

Notes

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pp. 215-251

Glossaries

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pp. 253-262

Bibliography

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pp. 263-290

Index

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pp. 291-297


E-ISBN-13: 9780520908765
Print-ISBN-13: 9780520063129

Page Count: 320
Publication Year: 1989

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