Adapting to nature’s peculiaritiesJapanese farmland is highly cultivated. Domestic crop production, with a traditional focus on rice, accounts for the highest output within the agricultural farming sector. In Japan, paddy fields are the main form of rice cultivation. Due to a shortage of plain farmland, farmers utilize terraced paddies built into mountain slopes or swampland around the country’s coastlines. Rice paddies are vital to Japan’s biodiversity, since they serve as ecosystems and water reservoirs, protecting wildlife population and preventing flooding.
The Japanese archipelago consists of highly forested and mountainous islands, with the habitable zones centered around coastal areas. Despite Japan being densely forested, the forestry sector and the lumber industry are not well developed. Forestry in Japan is often run as a side-business of establishments and individuals active in the farming sector.
As Japan is an island nation surrounded by oceans, people have traditionally taken advantage of the abundant supply of seafood. More than 2,000 fishing ports are operated across the country, with Japanese marine fisheries showing the highest production output within the sector, closely followed by marine aquacultures. Inland water fisheries and aquacultures are comparatively minor sub-sectors of the fishing industry, focusing on the production of shellfish and eels.
While Japan is blessed with a rich fauna and flora, it is also uniquely vulnerable to the elements. Natural disasters, such as earthquakes, typhoons, or flooding through heavy rainfall regularly affect the agricultural industry. With the intensifying effects of climate change, the impact on the primary sector through natural catastrophes will likely worsen in the future.
How tourism revives the agricultural sectorAgriculture and food-related tourism in Japan is enjoying steady popularity among international, but even more so among domestic travelers. Japan has been looking to revive its decaying rural areas for years, with limited success. Young people are drawn to the country’s buzzing metropolitan areas, providing work, convenience, and a desirable, modern lifestyle. A popular mechanism used to promote rural areas is the so-called agritourism. Through tour programs, such as farm stays, visitors get the chance to experience a variety of agricultural activities, from picking fruits and harvesting tea leaves, to making butter and feeding animals. Learning about rural traditions and tasting local delicacies is also a popular feature of Japanese tv shows. Since each Japanese prefecture is renowned for certain agricultural products and dishes, celebrities are regularly filmed traveling the country on the hunt for highlights of regional cuisines. A focal point is always fresh produce, fish, and meat.
The Japanese archipelago stretches over six principle climate zones, allowing the cultivation of a broad spectrum of agricultural products. For example, the northern island Hokkaido is famous for its dairy products, the neighboring Aomori prefecture produces not only the majority, but allegedly also the best apples in the country. While many gourmets around the globe dream of sampling the original Kobe beef, Yamaguchi prefecture’s infamous fugu (pufferfish) remains a specialty only for the brave. Through the promotion of farming and rural lifestyle as touristic activities, younger generations are not only reintroduced to an almost forgotten part of the country, but money and attention are put back into a sector that struggles to survive.