Japan Human Geography

Japan Human Geography

The human occupation of Japan took place through complex and not yet clear events. According to localtimezone, the Japanese people derive from the fusion of indigenous Ainu groups with Chinese and Malay immigrants; according to others, from Paleosiberian people fusesi with Tungus, Korean and Chinese groups; some believe that the origin of the Japanese can be traced back to the migrations of the most ancient Asian groups of the NE from which the Amerindoids and Polynesians derived. It is certain, however, that in the century. VI were characterized two basic groups, one to affine type Sinico (dolichocephalic high stature) and the other to the type sudmongolico (brachicefalo short stature). Within these two groups, Japanese anthropologists distinguish multiple varieties attributable to four main forms: the short and strong brachycephaly (ihikawa) located in the NE of the archipelago; that of medium-low stature and moderate brachycephaly (okayama) located in the central-western and coastal regions of Honshū; that of medium-upper stature and moderate dolichocephaly (chikuzen) located in most of Kyushu; the tall and marked dolichocephaly (satsuma) located in the South of Kyūshū and in Shikoku. The vaguely europoid traits would derive from the most ancient Ainu substrate. Regarding the processes inherent to the acculturation of the country, cultural and population currents have been identified coming not only from China (through the “bridge” of Korea) but also from Insulindia.

The Neolithic culture of Jōmon laid the first foundations of human organization, which took shape in more precise forms with the subsequent Yayoi culture, which is connected to the last great immigration wave of people of the continent, those who have defined the characters of the Japanese people. With the culture of Yayoi there was also the introduction of rice cultivation, as it is practiced throughout Sinic and monsoon Asia. The main settlement areas were in central-southern Honshū and Kyūshū; soon the major center of gravitation of that original occupation became the Nara basin. This made it possible, in the century. VII d. C., that process of unification that was expressed in the first imperial dominion, extended over a large part of the central-southern section of the archipelago. With this political-economic organization that system of land occupation was realized, based on the Jorisystem (geometric division of the territory, which corresponds to a regular modular-based parceling of the fields and corresponding distribution of the settlements) which has left traces until today in the Japanese landscape. With the Heiancivilization, which dominated the country between the century. VIII and XII, there was an expansion of the Japanese population towards the north and the establishment of a very large territorial plot, with its summit in Kyōto. It was an economically prosperous period and the population reached, according to some estimates, 6 million residents; but the conquest and colonization of new lands, assigned to princes and military leaders, laid the foundations of that feudalism that he left, until the century. XIX, indelible traces in the territorial structures. This organization had its fulcrum in the cities of the daimyō (feudal lords) dominated by a castle around which were the quarters of the samurai, artisans and traders. In the Tokugawa era, which stiffened the political-economic organization of the country, the fulcrum of the empire moved to Edo, the future Tōkyō: it counted in the century. XVIII ca. one million residents and it was probably already at that time the most populous city in the world. However, Japan experienced, under imperial rule, a long demographic stagnation, due to the poor conditions of life in the countryside and to which the brutal practice of mabiki, the suffocation of babies, used by the poorest peasants also contributed.

The Meiji Restoration (1868) brought a breath of new vitality to the country: the economy, no longer subject to feudal restrictions, had immediate impulses, which were measured not only in urban centers activated by new commercial and industrial interests, but also in the rural world. The actual colonization of Hokkaidō, which until then remained very sparsely populated, began at this time (the majority of the population was made up of Ainu), with no more than 30,000 residents. Immigration to the northernmost island began in massive forms towards the end of the century. XIX, introducing up to 60,000 people annually. The growth of urbanization was also notable, which then exploded towards the end of the century. At the first census, carried out in 1872, the Japanese population amounted to 34.8 million. It subsequently increased rapidly, due to the improved living conditions in the country. In 1920, that is, after about half a century from the first census, the population increased by more than half, even if in the meantime Japan had lost a certain number of residents with emigration to Anglo-Saxon America, Hawaii and South America. (however, the most massive emigration to South America occurred later, in the 1930s, when as many as 900,000 Japanese reached Brazil). This emigration was the consequence of the increased rate of demographic increase that occurred after 1920 due to a significant decrease in mortality. Demographic developments came to a sudden halt during the conflict years, particularly in 1944-45, both for the low birth rate and for the high mortality due to war losses and bombings in large cities.

Japan Human Geography