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Environment and Society in the Japanese Islands

From Prehistory to the Present

Bruce L. Batten and Philip C. Brown

6 × 9. B&W and Color Illustrations. Maps. Index. 312 pages.

2015. ISBN 978-0-87071-801-4. Paperback, $29.95s.

Over the long course of Japan's history, its rich natural environment simultaneously supported its human inhabitants and created significant hazards and challenges. The Japanese have also influenced nature in numerous ways, from landscape modification to industrial pollution. How has the human-nature relationship changed over time in Japan? How does Japan’s environmental history compare with that of other countries, or that of the world as a whole?


Environment and Society in the Japanese Islands attempts to answer these questions through a series of case studies by leading Japanese and Western historians, geographers, archaeologists, and climatologists. These essays, on diverse topics from all periods of Japanese history and prehistory, are unified by their focus on the key concepts of “resilience” and “risk mitigation.” Taken as a whole, they place Japan’s experience in global context and call into question the commonly presumed division between premodern and modern environmental history.


Primarily intended for scholars and students in fields related to Japan or environmental history, these accessibly written essays will be valuable to anyone wishing to learn about the historical roots of today’s environmental issues or the complex relationship between human society and the natural environment.

List of Contributors:

Gina Barnes
Bruce L. Batten
Philip C. Brown
Eric Dinmore
Toshihiro Higuchi
Junpei Hirano
Kuang-chi Hung
Tatsunori Kawasumi
Takehiko Mikami
Scott O’Bryan
Osamu Saito
Shizuyo Sano
Gregory Smits
Colin Tyner
Masumi Zaiki


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