SATOYAMA New Generation

Satoyama are areas where people have formed a close interdependent relationship with nature. These timeless landscapes are deeply embedded in the Japanese psyche and a recognizable feature of Japanese culture around the world. Yet the countryside is facing a crisis of epidemic proportions: a graying and decreasing population; wide swaths of unused farmland; and numerous empty or abandoned buildings and houses. But a ray of light has shown from a hopeful source: the younger generation. Leaving urban areas behind, they've quietly revitalized their adopted communities, and in the process, have found renewed energy and passion. American writer and Japanologist Alex Kerr takes us to the aging castle town of Taketa in Oita Prefecture where new value and old traditions work hand in hand. Kerr notes that this change occurring in the satoyama may alter assumptions of life in the countryside and economics in general.