Rethinking the humanistic approach in geography: Misunderstood essences and Japanese challenges

Satoshi Imazato

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2 Citations (Scopus)


This paper critically reevaluated the history of humanistic geography in Japan and English-speaking countries. Japanese applications to case studies have been mainly developed in rural and historical geography, maintaining its own humanistic perspectives nurtured in traditional Japanese academics. The essences of humanistic geography as positive science, however, have often been misunderstood, both inside and outside of Japan. The author accordingly reexamined the basic concepts and perspectives in the original approaches of Tuan, Relph, and Ley, as well as in the phenomenology of Husserl and Schutz, to more rigidly redefine humanistic geography: focusing on intersubjective order in human existential space or its representations; seeking universality of human reason and the senses; utilization of humanities or fieldwork materials considering inside humans' views; and philosophical reflections on the methodology of human sciences. From the viewpoint of this redefinition, we recognize that methodological challenges have accumulated within Japanese geography: semiotics of folk classifications of settlement spaces, quantitative textual analysis, epistemological reconsideration of space and landscape, and radical rethinking of the Western dualism between 'human' and 'nature'.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)38-62
Number of pages25
JournalJapanese Journal of Human Geography
Issue number6
Publication statusPublished - 2007
Externally publishedYes

All Science Journal Classification (ASJC) codes

  • Geography, Planning and Development


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