Exploring Tourism Potential of Agricultural Heritage Systems A: Case Study of the Kunisaki Peninsula, Oita Prefecture, Japan

Kazem Vafadari


This paper analyzes the tourism potential of agricultural heritage landscapes for regional revitalization through a case study of the Kunisaki Peninsula in Oita, Japan. Recently, the concept of agroecosystems has emerged as a holistic approach for conserving dynamic agri-heritage landscapes that has sustained the human societies for millennia. The FAO initiative of Globally Important Agricultural Heritage Systems (GIAHS) is one of the leading initiatives for dynamic conservation of these landscapes. The Kunisaki peninsula was nominated as a GIAHS for its traditional resource circulation landscape earlier in 2013. The peninsula used to be a religious and cultural hub in historical times, but the area is currently facing rapid decline mainly due to depopulation and aging. This research explores the potential of agri-heritage tourism in the peninsula, by analyzing the components of the resource circulation landscape, and the importance of cultural heritage. The research is based on in-depth fieldwork in the designated site, and on an extensive review of literature. The key findings are: the resource circulation landscape of this GIAHS site can be divided into ‘core’ and ‘value-added’ components, core components being small scale interlinked ‘tameike’ reservoirs and sawtooth Oak forests, and the endemic shichitoui grass and shiitake mushroom are value added products. These social ecological production landscapes are underutilized, and if agri-tourism is properly planned at the site, it can generate renewed stakeholder interest in these landscapes, and thus pave the way for revitalizing this declining region, which has immense value as a low-carbon, sustainable rural society based on traditional farming knowledge. 

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DOI: https://doi.org/10.5296/iss.v1i1.4465


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