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Ogata-Mura: Sowing Dissent and Reclaiming Identity in a Japanese Farming Village

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Volume 7

Asian Anthropologies

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Sowing Dissent and Reclaiming Identity in a Japanese Farming Village

Donald C. Wood

262 pages, 52 ills, bibliog., index

ISBN  978-0-85745-524-6 $135.00/£99.00 Hb Published (September 2012)

ISBN  978-1-78533-044-5 $29.95/£23.95 Pb Published (October 2015)

eISBN 978-0-85745-526-0 eBook

Hb Pb View cartYour country: United States - Click here to remove geolocation   Buy the eBook from these vendors Request a Review or Examination Copy (in Digital Format) Recommend to your Library Available in GOBI®


"In his densely detailed, long-term study of Ogata-mura, Wood has taken us a lifetime away from the first studies of Japanese villages carried out by foreigners in the 1930s and 1950sWood presents an excellent analysis of the conflict between the view held by some residents that farming is a way of life and the conviction by others that it is a business like any other. The authorities have proved remarkably tone-deaf to the implications of this contrast, not only in Ogata-mura, but on the national level as well. Wood is able to provide a degree of detail that most ethnographers would envy.”  ·  Asian Anthropology

This is a very interesting text written about a very important subject.  The ‘saga’ of Ogata-mura speaks to a number of issues (agriculture, rural development, centralized bureaucratic planning, ecological impact and other such areas) that are very important for modern Japan and, by extension, many other societies.”  ·  John Mock, Temple University Japan


Following the Second World War, a massive land reclamation project to boost Japan’s rice production capacity led to the transformation of the shallow lagoon of Hachirogata in Akita Prefecture into a seventeen-thousand-hectare expanse of farmland. In 1964, the village of Ogata-mura was founded on the empoldered land inside the lagoon and nearly six hundred pioneers from across the country were brought to settle there. The village was to be a model of a new breed of highly mechanized, efficient rice agriculture; however, the village’s purpose was jeopardized when the demand for rice fell, and the goal of creating an egalitarian farming community was threatened as individual entrepreneurialism took root and as the settlers became divided into political factions that to this day continue to struggle for control of the village. Based on seventeen years of research, this book explores the process of Ogatamura’s development from the planning stages to the present. An intensive ethnographic study of the relationship between land reclamation, agriculture, and politics in regional Japan, it traces the internal social effects of the village’s economic transformations while addressing the implications of national policy at the municipal and regional levels.

Donald C. Wood is an Associate Professor at Akita University, where he has worked since earning a PhD in cultural anthropology at the University of Tokyo in 2004. He is currently editor of the Research in Economic Anthropology book series.

Subject: Environmental Studies (General) Anthropology (General)
Area: Asia-Pacific



Introduction: The Village and the Issues
Putting Ogata-mura under the Lens
Problems – Community Planning, Transition Economy, and Conflict

Chapter 1. Agricultural Policy and Regional Politics in Japan
Agricultural and Regional Policy
Carrots from Heaven
Agricultural Policy and Regional Politics – Reflections

Chapter 2. Reclamation and the Old Social Order
Hachirōgata Before the Reclamation
The Reclamation
Loneliness, Depression and Tensions
The Cooperative Groups
Social Organization Beyond the Group Level
The End of the Settlement Phase
Utopia Lost?

Chapter 3. The Storm and the Aftermath
Dark Clouds on the Horizon
The Deluge
Why did the Clouds Burst?
The Beautification Campaign Accelerates
Big Plans and High Hopes
The Sociopolitical Costs of Cosmetic Surgery

Chapter 4. Rice: Alliances, Institutions, Frictions
Rice Marketing in the Village
Business and Politics in an Ogata-mura Neighborhood
Rice Farming and Business Intertwined

Chapter 5. Politics and the New Social Order
The Interplay of Opposing “Parties”
The Election of 2000
Developments Following the Election of 2000
The Election of 2004
A Fracture Forms in the Opposition Party
The Election of 2008
The Changing Political Landscape

Chapter 6. What Can We Learn from Ogata-mura?
Plans, Policies, and Politics – The Big Picture
Plans, Policies, and Politics – The Small Picture
A Model Farming Village?


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