Satoyama – The Basics
What is satoyama?
Satoyama is a term used to describe the land between the mountains and the arable farming land.
Typically satoyama landscapes are a balanced mix of forested areas and terraced rice fields irrigated by water running off the mountains on the lower slopes of the mountains. Satoyama ideally see man and nature working together, with forestry and agriculture managed to encourage a wide range of biodiversity.
However, as with many aspects of traditional life in Japan, the satoyama lifestyle is under threat as an aging society and declining rural populations slowly empties many of the villages that make up these communities. The satoyama spirit could easily be dying out.
Luckily though there is a large number of people who recognise the importance of these regions and the role they play in maintaining the incredible diversity of Japan’s ecosystem.
Many volunteer groups now monitor and manage key woodland areas, ensuring healthy growth and suitable conditions for the widest variety of plant and animal life. These same groups also organise satoyama walks and events where they demonstrate basic skills and educate people (especially children) about the diverse nature all around them. With insects, amphibians, birds, reptiles, fish, mammals of all sizes and four distinct seasons, satoyama certainly offers a lot of variety.
I love living in my little Satoyama town and going out with my local satoyama group and I look forward to sharing it with you too.