chapter  10
22 Pages

Scenic National Landscapes: Common Themes in Japan and the United States

ByYuriko Saito

Landscapes often help characterize a country’s national identity. Both in Japan and in the United States, landscape aesthetics has historically been motivated by each society’s effort to develop nationalistic ethos and pride by overcoming their cultural indebtedness to China and to Europe respectively. In Japan, this phenomenon is illustrated best by the three historically designated scenic places. I will first explore the landscape aesthetics specific to Japanese culture, exemplified by those scenic places, and its contribution to the formation of Japanese cultural identity. I will then compare this Japanese tradition to the American scenic landscapes, characterized by the early national parks, selected also for serving the nationalistic agenda. My primary purpose for examining landscape aesthetics in these two cultures is to explore the implications, sometimes problematic, of such a societal project for selecting certain scenic landscapes for popular appreciation.