Japanese Journal of Human Geography Vol.61 No.3 (2009)

Vol.61 No.3 (2009)



The Transformation of Local Performance and Exhibition Spaces:
Choreographing the Etchu Owara―bushi
NAGAO Yoko (1)


A Survey of Geographical Studies in Japan, 2008 (21)

Research Note

Local Culture and Regional Images: The Case of Clay Toys in Okayama Prefecture
OKAMOTO Noriyuki (63)


Progress in Perceptual―behavioral Geography in Japan: Retrospect and Prospect
WAKABAYASHI Yoshiki (80)

Meeting Reports

266th Regular Meeting (96)
29th Meeting of Metroporitan Area Studies, 14th Meeting of Geographical Education (97)
News (102)
Announcement (104)


The Transformation of Local Performance and Exhibition Spaces: Choreographing the Etchu Owara―bushi

(Faculty of Representational Studies, Wako University)

Local performances in provincial areas of Japan have witnessed various changes since the Meiji era. Along with the policies of the government, the changes were occasioned by the complex effects of industrialization and the spread of Western political styles and social reorganization. Exhibitions held through the late 19th century to the early 20th century demonstrate these transformative processes. By focusing on an exhibition that took place in Toyama, this paper asks how local people experienced and interpreted modernity, and what kind of cultural transformations occurred.
The Joint Exhibition of Nine Prefectures hosted by Toyama Prefecture was held in 1913 to celebrate the opening of a train service between Nao’etsu and Toyama (part of the Hokuriku Main Line), and the completion of a harbor in Fushiki. The exhibition was typical of the era in performatively demonstrating the Enlightenment, industrialization, imperialism and the shift to a consumer society. The new train service and harbor symbolized these elements. These multi―faceted elements were also incorporated into the new Toyama Dance which was skillfully staged in the Entertainment Hall situated on the main fairground. One conspicuous image embraced in the production was that of “the sea”. The sea motif announced the emergence of Toyama as a modernizing prefecture whose domestic and international trade was made possible by enhanced transportation systems, industrialization, and tourism in coastal areas. Its semiotic effect also configured the locality of Toyama coupled with the traditional scheme of literary imagination and the classifying and commodifying effects of light, a distinctive feature of exhibition spaces.
However, such a dominant discourse was also contentious. Amateur singers were invited from Yatsuo, a town located about 20km south of Toyama City, to take part in the production. Historical accounts suggest that this experience left them with uncomfortable feelings about the staging of the performance: it “defeated the true purpose of the Etchu Owara―bushi”. Eventually these Yatsuo townspeople created a dance called Honen―odori (Harvest Dance) to be performed in conjunction with Etchu Owara―bushi, and this modification has been passed down to the present. The creation of the Honen―odori involved efforts to reconcile frustrations arising from lowered status, on the one hand, and local pride, on the other, by assessing the town’s position in a rapidly changing Toyama Prefecture and in relation to the interests and visions of other prefectures across Japan (and its overseas territories). Such efforts brought about a new, reflexive sense of belonging to a Yatsuo situated within Japan as a multi―layered ideological construct. In addition, it is important to realize that Honen―odori imparted a visual element to Etchu Owara―bushi, primarily a musical performance, and thus served to conjoin the cultural tradition of Yatsuo with modernity, which privileges the visual. The creation of a new dance form for the Etchu Owara―bushi embodied the self―affirmation of Yatsuo in this new historical context.
Modification of the Etchu Owara―bushi in response to the exhibition shows that people in provincial areas were not as passive as generally believed. Instead, multi―layered parties and discourses actively interacted to participate in the vision(ing) of modernity, by creating cultural forms representing identities that were constantly being renewed.

Key words: modernity, provincial culture, Taisho, exhibition/concours, local performance, Toyama Prefecture

Local Culture and Regional Images: The Case of Clay Toys in Okayama Prefecture

OKAMOTO Noriyuki
(Tokai Junior and High School)

Studies on local culture by geographers and other researchers have focused on the manner in which regional inhabitants have inherited and revived the local “traditions”, while many other local cultures barely survive without active practice of or distinguished involvement in the traditions within the region. In these cultures that have been forgotten at home, the locale’s “gaze” from the outside have played important roles in maintaining cultural continuance and encouraging a small number of local key inhabitants. This paper argues that the urban dilettantes’ projection of regional images onto the traditional local culture has critically influenced the revival of the local cultures and their “traditional” and nostalgic images that have been separated and isolated from real regional lives. This is discussed with special reference to the case of doro―tenjin or a clay toy representative of an ancient nobleman―Sugawara no Michizane (845―903). The disparity between the extinction of the local custom of displaying the doro―tenjin at children’s celebrations and the creation of the nostalgic images that local toy collectors and tourists find in the toys, is observed in the Mimasaka area―the northern region of Okayama Prefecture. Although the local cultures, including those associated with the clay toys, need to be maintained by the townspeople, the clay toys have lost their cultural significance in Mimasaka. However, both the craftsmen and collectors of local toys consciously adhere to the nostalgic regional images of the toys so as to find the significance of the inheritance of the tradition or the cultural value of the doro―tenjin, although their images are not necessarily the same. The case of the doro―tenjin illustrates a typical situation that prevails in Japanese local culture, i. e., the culture is not supported by active practice in the real region but by that in the imagined region.

Key words: local culture, clay toy, regional image, gaze, Okayama Prefecture

Progress in Perceptual―behavioral Geography in Japan: Retrospect and Prospect

(Tokyo Metropolitan University)

The annual review of human geographical studies in Japan published in the Japanese Journal of Human Geography (Jimbun Chiri) has included a section on perceptual and behavioral geography since 1982. Nevertheless, the editorial board of the journal decided to remove this section in 2008. There is no doubt that this decision was made because of the need to re―examine the classification of the sections in this article, and was affected by the recent reorganization of this discipline. However, it is too early to say that perceptual and behavioral geography has lost its productivity and attraction. The aim of this paper is to review the advancements in perceptual and behavioral geography in retrospect and to evaluate the prospects for research in this field in Japan in comparison with the trends in English―speaking countries.
To elucidate the place of perceptual and behavioral geography in Japanese geography and the changes over the years, the author analyzed the literature in Bibliographies on Japanese Geographical Research, the fields of interest of Japanese geographers, and the change in the tone of the articles published in the annual review of the above journal. The analysis revealed that perceptual and behavioral geography in Japan has not lost its productivity and still attracts the attention of more than a few young geographers; however, the number of researchers specializing in this field remains few. As the studies in this field tend to overlap with other branches of geography, and since the polarization between perceptual and behavioral studies has not yet been reconciled, the unity of this field of research has become lost. As a result, this field is marginalized in human geography.
While this trend in perceptual and behavioral geography observed in Japan is similar to that observed in UK, perceptual and behavioral geography in the USA enjoys a more optimistic outlook, since the specialty group of EPBG, which has made close connections with GIS and cartography, remains active there. After 2000, new trends in perceptual and behavioral geography have been observed in Japan. A notable one is the interdisciplinary collaboration with related fields (e. g., psychology and information science). In addition, there has been an increase in the number of studies focusing on special segments of the population, such as the disabled, foreigners, children, the elderly, and women; these studies are more concerned with specificity rather than generality, since they take into consideration the geographic context of environmental perception and spatial behavior. These studies aim at solving actual problems and are applicable to public policy and urban planning. Recently, studies on spatial cognition have also contributed significantly to GIS and cartography.

Key words: environmental perception, spatial behavior, time geography, humanistic geography, geographic information science

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