Local Revitalization Projects in Rural Japan: The Case of Tamba Sasayama and its Traditional Tamba Pottery

Post-war Japan is renowned for its miraculously rapid economic recovery and societal development. However, this process also resulted in social problems such as regional disparity and rural depopulation. In response to these challenges, the government has adopted various regional development policies that aim to revitalize rural communities in accordance with an attractive and idealized vision of the countryside. Particular emphasis is placed on supporting local traditions of craftsmanship, which has led to the re-discovery and re-invention of many local forms of craft. Once past-oriented and something to be preserved and protected, tradition has been re-imagined as creative capital. One such local tradition is the Tamba pottery of Tamba-Sasayama, Japan. In this project, I look at how the local pottery is represented as an alternative cultural/economic capital of the region, and I critically examine whether craftsmanship is really the “panacea” that public policies suggest. 

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