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Practice of Archaeology in Contemporary Japan

  • Fumiko Ikawa-Smith
Chapter

Abstract

Although the key goal of archaeology in Japan continues to be the construction of national identity with reference to the past, increasing diversity in research objectives and methodology applied by the current generation of practicing archaeologists is noticeable. This chapter begins with a review of the historical backgrounds that contributed to the present condition of Japanese archaeology: (1) the antiquarian traditions of the Tokugawa Era (AD 1603–1868), (2) the introduction of the Euro-American archaeology in the late nineteenth century and its development into the academic tradition with emphasis on particularistic, empirical approach, and (3) suppression of archaeological inquiry and isolation from the western scholarship during World War II, followed by adoption of certain elements of Anglo-American archaeology in post-war years. With the numerous construction projects threatening archaeological remains, the public outcry over the loss of cultural heritage led to the revision of laws and regulations, and establishment of elaborate, government-sponsored system of salvage archaeology that employs thousands of professional archaeologists. The economic downturn and the trends toward privatization of institutions in recent decades are creating new challenges for the archaeological community to come up with a strategy for maintaining the quality of archaeological operations.

Keywords

Archaeological Site Archaeological Remains Burial Mound Cultural Affair Public Archaeology 
These keywords were added by machine and not by the authors. This process is experimental and the keywords may be updated as the learning algorithm improves.

Notes

Acknowledgment

I am indebted to a number of people who helped me with gathering data in preparation for this paper. I am grateful, in particular, to Dr. Akira Matsui and his colleagues at the Center for Archaeological Operations in Nara for the statistical material on archaeological investigations in Japan over the past decades, to Mr. Izumi Hayakawa of the Japan Association of Preservation of Cultural Properties for the documents regarding this newly emerging organization, and Professor Hiroyuki Sato of the University of Tokyo for his kind assistance to hunt down some missing data. I must add that I benefited from conversations with the people above, as well as with Professor Hideji Harunari of the National Museum of Japanese History and Folklore, Professor Tetsuo Kikuchi of Waseda University, Professor Tatsuo Kobayashi of Kokugauin University, and Professor Koji Mizoguchi of Kyushu University. Last but not least, I appreciate the opportunity Dr. Ludomir Lozny gave me to put together the material I have accumulated over the years, and to his patience and valuable comments he has provided on the earlier drafts of this paper.

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Authors and Affiliations

  1. 1.McGill UniversityMontrealCanada

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