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The Lost Wolves Of Japan (Weyerhaeuser Environmental Books)
 
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The Lost Wolves Of Japan (Weyerhaeuser Environmental Books) [ハードカバー]

William Cronon , Brett L. Walker

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Many Japanese once revered the wolf as Oguchi no Magami, or Large-Mouthed Pure God, but as Japan began its modern transformation wolves lost their otherworldly status and became noxious animals that needed to be killed. By 1905 they had disappeared from the country. In this spirited and absorbing narrative, Brett Walker takes a deep look at the scientific, cultural, and environmental dimensions of wolf extinction in Japan and tracks changing attitudes toward nature through Japan's long history. He discusses prominent Japanese naturalists, their theories of wolf extinction, and the development of Japan's scientific discipline of ecology, looking at how nation-building and industrialization in the eighteenth and nineteenth centuries reconfigured relationships with the natural world in ways that led to the extinction of wolves.Grain farmers once worshipped wolves at shrines and left food offerings near their dens, beseeching the elusive canine to protect their crops from the sharp hooves and voracious appetites of wild boars and deer. Talismans and charms adorned with images of wolves protected against fire, disease, and other calamities and brought fertility to agrarian communities and to couples hoping to have children. The Ainu people believed that they were born from the union of a wolflike creature and a goddess. In the eighteenth century, wolves were seen as rabid man-killers in many parts of Japan. Highly ritualized wolf hunts were instigated to cleanse the landscape of what many considered as demons. By the nineteenth century, however, the destruction of wolves had become decidedly unceremonious.To contrast wolf killings in the decades before and after the Meiji Restoration of 1868, Walker looks at killings on the island of Hokkaido. The systematic erasure of one of the archipelago's largest carnivores - through poisoning, hired hunters, and a bounty system - elevated humans to spiritual and actual mastery over a part of the natural world. The story of wolf extinction exposes the underside of Japan's modernization. Certain wolf scientists still camp out in Japan to listen for any trace of the elusive canines. The quiet they experience reminds us of the profound silence that awaits all humanity when, as the Japanese priest Kenko taught almost seven centuries ago, we 'look on fellow sentient creatures without feeling compassion'.

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"The Lost Wolves of Japan draws not just on Japanese history, literature, folklore, taxonomy, and ecology, but on the author's personal experience and on relevant science and historiography in other parts of the world as well." William Cronon, University of Wisconsin, Madison "Walker has taken the seemingly obscure topic of Japanese wolves and their extinction and used it to illuminate Japanese history more broadly... he has addressed an issue directly related to the central human agenda of the 21st century, that of survival in a severely overburdened and rapidly deteriorating global biosystem." Conrad Totman, author of Preindustrial Korea and Japan in Environmental Perspective

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Amazon.com: 5つ星のうち 4.0  3 件のカスタマーレビュー
4 人中、4人の方が、「このレビューが参考になった」と投票しています。
5つ星のうち 5.0 We need more wolves and fewer people 2013/2/26
By Eoin - (Amazon.com)
形式:Kindle版|Amazon.co.jpで購入済み
Great book. It places a cultural study of Japanese wolves in a carefully considered historical context from which the reader is allowed to draw some significant concerns about America's own treatment of wolves and exactly what that treatment implies about our national character (or lack of character) and our entire relationship with nature since our arrival on this continent. It is an informative and intriguing read even for those who don't think about the plight of wolves very often.
1 人中、1人の方が、「このレビューが参考になった」と投票しています。
5つ星のうち 5.0 Another View 2013/7/10
By Mokadi Jook - (Amazon.com)
形式:ペーパーバック|Amazon.co.jpで購入済み
If you are interested in wolves, the mechanics of extinction, or the relationship of the Japanese people to the environment, this is a fascinating read. The spiritual and cultural relationship between the Japanese wolf and the Japanese people is explored in this well-written volume. Illustrations enhance the text, and the author's own experiences with wolves in the American west are relevant and provide a contrast to his experiences researching the history of the disappearance of wolves and wild dogs in Japan.
2 人中、0人の方が、「このレビューが参考になった」と投票しています。
5つ星のうち 2.0 Hard to Swallow 2014/3/14
By Dubrl. - (Amazon.com)
形式:ペーパーバック|Amazon.co.jpで購入済み
We don’t always get the book we expect. I expected Walker’s book to be something like the 1880 classic “British Animals Extinct Within Historic Times”, in which J. E. Harting bemoans the disappearance “beyond recall” of wild boars, bears, and wolves. (He was wrong: wild boars are back in Great Britain, and there is talk of reintroducing the wolf.) In lively writing Harting describes the animals, their range and habits, humans’ wars against them, and accounts of both real and legendary last individuals. He never blames anyone but the British for wiping out their large animals.

Walker takes a different tack. Reading like a 1993 term paper for an environmental studies class, blame for the demise of Japanese wolves is laid almost entirely on the West. This relies on the easy answer that modern humans  and especially modern humans viewed as “technological”  are solely responsible for extinctions and other environmental catastrophes. And yet we know that pre-industrial societies, especially on islands, destroyed countless species. Island-like Australia began loosing its large animals as soon as humans arrived 50,000 years ago; animals on Hawaii, New Zealand, and other Pacific Islands were driven to extinction by Polynesians, Melanesians, and other peoples; most large British animals were wiped out during the Neolithic Era, and nearly all of the rest before the Middle Ages had passed.

Comparing Britain and Japan would be interesting  the British, living on an archipelago slightly smaller than Japan, and with less rugged terrain, were able to wipe out their wolves more than a century before the Japanese managed to kill off theirs. But Walker makes no mention of any other extinctions, and again takes the easy route of complaining about the “progress” that took Japan’s top predators. In fact, wolves weren’t Japan’s top predators  tigers and leopards were. And today, well into the 21st Century, tigers and leopards persist almost with sight of Hokkaido, just across the Sea of Japan in Russia. Why don’t they live in Japan? They don’t live in Japan because the early Japanese, or more likely the ancestors of the Ainu, either directly or indirectly killed every last one. That was long before the utilization of anti-predator strychnine and industrial cattle ranching.

Walker almost addresses the dearth of wildness in pre-industrial Japan. He speculates that Japan’s crows  the large-billed crow and the carrion crow  might have followed wolf packs, or led them to their prey. Bernd Heinrich has shown how ravens might do that, and how there might be something to the traditional association between ravens and wolves. But that association has never been attributed to smaller crows, and Walker’s speculation seems wishful thinking. Regardless, his musings acknowledge that ravens are rare in Japan, even though they are plentiful just to the north, and in relative wilderness of Asia, Africa, and North America that lie in latitudes far south of Japan’s. As with the tiger and leopard there seems to be no reason for ravens not to live in Japan, other than a lack of wild spaces and uninviting humans.

Another suggestion of a denuded, pre-industrial Japan is Walker’s search for the true identity of the Japanese wolf  was it a feral dog? But here again the analysis is irksome and does nothing to convince the reader. The best example in history of a dog that took on a truly wild state is the Australian dingo. But the dingo is mentioned only once, in passing.

Much of the book is devoted to the Japanese reverence for the wolf, which also paints a strange picture. The famously insular Japanese abandoned a sacred animal simply because the West didn’t care for wolves? Why didn’t they also adopt Christianity, if they were so bent on imitating the West? Yes, the Japanese adopted Western ways and technology during the Meiji era, but there is no doubt that they picked and chose what they thought appropriate.

And here again we can compare environmental ideals in Japan and the West. While the simplistic take is that the West is single-handedly destroying the planet, in the case of preserving mega fauna  and in particular predators  the West actually seems ahead. Wolves are returning to parts of Europe where they’d been extinct for centuries. Wolves have been reintroduced to the American West and even into North Carolina. Yes, these reintroductions are opposed by many, but significant enthusiasm for wolves among the entire population has made the reintroductions possible. And the century-long rural depopulation that came with industrial agriculture and industrial ranching provided enough open space.

Japan is also experiencing rural depopulation. The Japanese could reintroduce wolves any time they want, and yet they haven’t bothered. If their reverence for nature is so great, why not take it a step further, and reintroduce globally threatened tigers and leopards? Again, it seems the Japanese are essentially shrugging at the loss of large animals, and it’s hard to imagine that only a few generations ago they thought any differently.

This is not to single out the Japanese as any more anti-environment than most societies throughout history, but it shows that the simplistic tale of the West as the sole enemy of the planet is not backed up by facts. Unfortunately, it seems that “The Lost Wolves of Japan” relies on this discredited idea.
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