Abstract: The main purpose of this talk is to see how the concept of ‘rurality’ is perceived and reconstructed in modern Japan by analyzing the process of production and consumption of green tourism. The development of green tourism or urban-rural exchange tourism has been pursued in Japan with stated purposes of revitalizing rural society suffering from depopulation and economic decline and has made a notable contribution toward improving infrastructure in the countryside. Its pursuit, however, has also accompanied a transformation of the concept of rurality in which people see the things rural as objects of tourism and consumption. The countryside is no longer represented as a place for production and hard work of the local people but as a place of consumption, play and recreation for the urbanites. Rural tourism in Japan may in this sense be seen as a process of further appropriation of the countryside to the cities and to the urbanites who have dominated the modernist discourse in which the rural has been placed in the negative vis-à-vis the urban, the developed and the sophisticated. With the development of rural tourism, however, we observe yet another discursive turn in the conceptualization of the rural in which the local residents themselves have actively participated.
Commentator: Yongjia Liang, Professor, Department of Sociology, Zhejiang University