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Conceptualizations of Natural Habitat’s Influence on the Formation of the People’s Character in Japan: Jinkokuki and Shin Jinkokuki Texts’ and Studies’ Analysis

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The article is mainly based upon the analysis of two Japanese texts, Jinkokuki 人国記 (Records of the People and the Provinces, 16th century) and its later revised version Shin Jinkokuki 新人国記 (New Records of the People and the Provinces), created by the Confucian scholar and cartographer Seki Sokō 関祖衡 in 1701. Shin Jinkokuki is often considered to be one of the first Japanese atlases, as Seki not only revised and enlarged the original text, but also added maps to the descriptions of all of the Japanese provinces. Both texts are valued by Japanese scholars as fruitful sources for studies in the history of environmental psychology, or geopsychology, and a careful study of their content provides some new information on the ideas and concepts of natural habitats’ influence on the formation of behavioral models and personal qualities typical of the inhabitants of certain areas within Japan in the 16th - 18th centuries. In the first half of the 20th century, some Japanese authors, many of them playing leading roles in the introduction of Western science into Japan, were obsessed with the idea of formulating a typically Japanese way of thinking and behaving that would not only differentiate the Japanese from others, but also make the nation consider itself better than others. The search for roots of yamato-damashii and Japanese uniqueness in terms of relations between the Japanese people and the country’s nature, just as an attempt to make some certain values of the samurai class nationwide, revitalized interest in Jinkokuki and Shin Jinkokuki, which were used as an instrument of state propaganda. The second part of this article analyses works by Watanabe Tooru 渡辺徹, a psychologist who issued the first scholarly publication of these texts and whose academic career seems to be one long road to the “Records of the People and the Provinces”.

About the Author

S. A. Rodin
Institute for Oriental and Classical Studies; HSE University
Russian Federation


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For citations:

Rodin S.A. Conceptualizations of Natural Habitat’s Influence on the Formation of the People’s Character in Japan: Jinkokuki and Shin Jinkokuki Texts’ and Studies’ Analysis. Russian Japanology Review. 2020;3(2):88-107. (In Russ.)

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