Nihon fukeiron (Japanese landscape): Nationalistic or imperialistic?

Masako Gavin*

*Corresponding author for this work

Research output: Contribution to journalArticleResearchpeer-review

8 Citations (Scopus)


Nihon fukeiron (Japanese Landscape), written by Shiga Shigetaka (1863-1927), a journalist and geographer, is widely recognized as his most representative geographical text and also one of his most controversial works. The debate centres on whether his purpose in broadening his contemporaries' understanding of Japan’s natural environment was educational or imperialistic. Shiga is known among scholars of Japanese modern intellectual history as the pioneering advocate of kokusui shugi (maintenance of Japan’s cultural identity) in the face of increasing pressure from the West in the late 1880s. He perceived that the traditional Japanese elements that were so much a part of the lives of the Japanese people had their foundation in geography. This paper demonstrates that his immediate goal in praising Japan’s geography was to arouse national awareness and pride and to alert his countrymen to Japan’s position in the fast-changing world order. Furthermore, Nihon fu ¥ keiron was a rational geographic treatise and a travelogue in the Western style that suggested a new way of viewing the Japanese landscape. It was his attempt to express the abstract concept of kokusui in a more practical way and to provide concrete evidence of Japan’s 'excellence and uniqueness'.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)219-231
Number of pages13
JournalJapan Forum
Issue number2
Publication statusPublished - 1 Jan 2000


Dive into the research topics of 'Nihon fukeiron (Japanese landscape): Nationalistic or imperialistic?'. Together they form a unique fingerprint.

Cite this