Over the long course of Japan’s history, its people profited from their rich natural environment while simultaneously facing significant environmental challenges. Over time, they have altered their natural environment 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 pre-modern and modern environmental history.
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