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Community Studies in Japan

  • Richard K. Beardsley (a1)


Studies of Japan and the Japanese have tended to deal in large proportion with phenomena and problems of the nation as a whole rather than with its component parts. In contrast, community studies focus upon some of the smallest social units of a nation. Community studies have been attempted as an approach to understanding Japan and the Japanese only recently and by relatively few foreign scholars. Moreover, even though a recent survey of work done by the Japanese lists 126 localities from which data at the community level have been gathered, no fully rounded community study has yet been finished by Japanese social scientists. Western scholars, following beaten paths, simply have not ventured into communities for small scale studies, whereas in the case of the Japanese the partial intellectual isolation which delayed the arrival of some of the concepts basic to community studies seems largely responsible for the low returns from so much field research.



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1 Izumi, Seiichi —, “Nihon shakai no chiilci sei” (Regionalism in Japanese society), Nihon Chiri Shin Taikei (New Outline of Japanese Geography) (Tokyo, 1952), 2:3776.

2 Bishop, Isabella L. B., Unbeaten Tracks in Japan (London, 1880), 2 vols.; Morse, E. S., Japan Day by Day (Boston, 1917), 2 vols.; Robertson-Scott, J. W., The Foundations of Japan ([?], 1922).

3 Suye Mura. a Japanese Village (Chicago, 1939).

4 Raper, Arthur F. et al. , “The Japanese village in transition,” Supreme Commander for the Allied Powers, Natural Resources Section Report no. 136 (Tokyo, 1950).

5 Iwao Ishino, mimeographed report (Tokyo, 1951). This Ibaragi Prefecture study centers on labor boss organizations.

6 All these are reported to be unpublished as yet.

7 Grad, Andrew J., Fukaya, a Japanese Town (New York, IPR [in press]).

8 Niiike: a Study of the Rural Foundations of Japan (joint study, ms. in preparation); Norbeck, Edward, Takashima, a Fishing Community of Japan (Salt Lake City, 1954); Cornell, John B., Matsunagi, the Social Life of a Japanese Mountain Community (Ph.D. thesis, Univ. of Michigan, 1953); Smith, Robert J., Kurusu: a Changing Japanese Agricultural Community (Ph.D. thesis, Cornell Univ., 1953).

9 e.g., “Zushu Nakaura gyomin shiryō” (Historical materials on the fishermen of Nakaura, Izu Shizuoka Prefecture ), Achikku Myūzeamu Ibō (Attic Museum Reports), 20, 24, 28, 19371939; “Oga Kampū sanroku nōmin nichiroku” (Journal of a farmer at the foot of Mt. Kampū; Ōga), ibid., 16, 1940.

10 e.g., Omachi, Tokuzo, Hachijō-jima (Hachijō Island) (Tokyo, 1951).

11 Yanagida, Kunio, , ed., Sanson Seikatsu no Kenkyū (Studies of Life in Mountain Villages) (Tokyo, 1938); Kaison Seikatsu no Kenkyū (Studies of Life in Fishing Villages) (Tokyo, 1949).

12 Kunio, Yanagida, ed., Zenkoku Minzokusbi Sōsho (Collected Folklore Studies of Japan), 9 vols. (Tokyo, 19441953).

13 Aru Sanson no Monogurafu (Monograph on a Mountain Village) (Tokyo, 1951); Aru ljū son no Monogurafu (Monograph on a Village of Migrants) (Tokyo, 1952).

14 Sanson no Kōzō (The Organization of a Mountain Village) (Tokyo, 1949).

15 Nōson no Seikatsu: Okayama-ken Oku-gun Kasaka-mura Kitaike (Farm Village Life: Kitaike, Kasaka Village, Oku County, Okayama Prefecture) (Okayama, 1951).

16 Nihon Nōson no Shakaiteki Seikaku (Social Characteristics of Japanese Farming Villages) (Tokyo, 1949).

17 Koyama, Takashi , “Etchū Gokazan oyobi Hida Shirakawa ni okeru kazoku kōsei” (Family organization in Gokazan, Etchū [Toyama Pref.], and Shirakawa, Hida [Gifu Pref.]), Kenkyū Ronsō (Collected Studies), v. 6, no. 1 (Tokyo, 1933).

18 The thirteen communities of this report were selected from widely scattered spots in all four islands, to avoid distorting generalizations on a national scale by a regional bias. The report is in no way a study of regional variation, but by presenting the data for each village apart from the generalizing sections it does give some indication of the differences among communities.

19 One questionnaire was carried out in the hamlets immediately adjacent to the farm village of Niiike; another went to thirty villages statistically selected by random sampling from the entire drainage area of the Inland Sea, and a third was given to 1100 persons i:. the prefecture of Okayama.

20 Oka, Masao “Shalcai chōsa” (Social research), Minzokugaku Kenkyū (Japanese Journal of Ethnology), (1952), 1:5.

21 e.g., Ono, Takeo Nibon Sonraku-shi Gaisetsu (Outline of Japanese Village History) (Tokyo, 1936).

22 Compare the nostalgia of Yanagida, Kunio and Miki, Shigeru , Yukiguni no Minzoku (Folklore of Snowland) (Tokyo, 1944), for example, with the reform-mindedness of Furushima, Toshio , Sanson no Kōzō (Organization of a Mountain Village) (Tokyo, 1949).

23 Izumi, Seiichi, Aru Sanson no Monogurafu (Monograph on a Mountain Village) (Tokyo, 1951), and ibid., Aru ljū-son no Monogurafu (Monograph on a Village of Migrants) (Tokyo, 1952); Fukutake, Tadashi, , Amerika-mura (America Village) (Tokyo, 1953).

24 Yanagida, Kunio and Miki, Shigeru Yukiguni no Minzoku (Folklore of Snowland) (Tokyo, 1937); Kumaya, Motoichi Ochimura (Ochi Village) (Tokyo, 1938).

* Mr. Richard K. Beardsley is Associate Professor of Anthropology and Research Associate in the Museum of Anthropology at the University of Michigan.

Community Studies in Japan

  • Richard K. Beardsley (a1)


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