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Japan at Nature's EdgeThe Environmental Context of a Global Power$
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Ian Jared Miller, Julia Adeney Thomas, and Brett L. Walker

Print publication date: 2013

Print ISBN-13: 9780824836924

Published to Hawaii Scholarship Online: November 2016

DOI: 10.21313/hawaii/9780824836924.001.0001

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PRINTED FROM HAWAII SCHOLARSHIP ONLINE (www.hawaii.universitypressscholarship.com). (c) Copyright Hawaii University Press, 2018. All Rights Reserved. Under the terms of the licence agreement, an individual user may print out a PDF of a single chapter of a monograph in HSO for personal use (for details see www.universitypressscholarship.com/page/privacy-policy).date: 22 January 2019

Constructing Nature

Constructing Nature

(p.90) 5 Constructing Nature
Japan at Nature's Edge

Philip C. Brown

University of Hawai'i Press

This chapter challenges some common understandings of Asian and Japanese societies' relationship to the natural environment. It begins with a consideration of natural forces that shaped the Echigo Plain—what it calls “natural construction”—and goes on to discuss some of the ways in which human society has sought to alter the plain to make it safer for human habitation, with particular emphasis on efforts to ameliorate flooding. It looks at Japan's history of reliance on the construction of riparian facilities to address flood hazard risks as well as to provide water for irrigation and urban populations. The chapter describes several civil engineering projects that illustrate the important role played by the controlling urge even in premodern times before turning to the Okōtsu Diversion Channel spanning the years 1870 and 1931. It argues that the Okōtsu Diversion Channel and similar projects provide evidence of the ways riparian construction altered the environment.

Keywords:   natural environment, Echigo Plain, natural construction, flooding, riparian facilities, irrigation, civil engineering, controlling urge, Okōtsu Diversion Channel, riparian construction

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