Minami-Shimabara AEON Satoyama: Revitalizing and passing on the rich and historical relationship between humans and nature in Arima to the next generation

Satoyama Initiative所収

The 1637 Shimabara-Amakusa Rebellion occurred in the early Edo period of Japan. This was an uprising against harsh regime enforced in the Shimabara domain, including heavy taxation and the violent prohibition of Christianity. The rebels fought against the shogunate forces, but the uprising was suppressed and the rebels executed. The “Minami-Shimabara AEON Satoyama” is located on the top of a hill that stretches behind Hara Castle ruins, which marks the scene of the rebellion and has been designated as a UNESCO World Cultural Heritage site.

On the hill-top highland called Uehara, in Minami-Shimabara City, Nagasaki Prefecture where the Minami-Shimabara AEON Satoyama is located, there was a water source forest until the early 20th century that supplied water to the villages and terraced rice paddies at the foot of the mountain. The forest was converted to farmland by returning settlers after World War II. Subsequently, a large radio transmission station was constructed in 1978 on the land, which reportedly affected the water source at the base of the mountain. With the closure and removal of the station in 1999, a proposal was made to create a “citizens’ forest” to restore the forest and its ecosystem functions, such as water source recharge and protection against landslides. Thus, the Satoyama has gradually been restored through collaborative efforts by the local government and citizens, and new forms of the sustainable relationship between humans and nature are being sought that effectively use various ecosystem goods and services deriving from the restored Satoyama, such as food and nature experiences. This report is a case study of the Minami-Shimabara AEON Satoyama project, based on field surveys and interviews conducted by the authors from April 16 to 19 and June 13 to 14, 2022.