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Saving tradition in Japan: a case study of local opinions regarding urban university students’ participation in rural festivals

Ryohei Yamashita ()
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Ryohei Yamashita: Ishikawa Prefectural University

Asia-Pacific Journal of Regional Science, 2021, vol. 5, issue 1, No 6, 125-147

Abstract: Abstract Many traditional festivals in rural Japan are at risk of dying out owing to depopulation of villages. One countermeasure that could save these festivals from extinction is the involvement of non-local youth, in particular university students. In today’s Japan, university students are trying to begin building volunteer experience and developing their careers by participating in local community activities such as festivals. However, conflicts that may occur in such situations due to cultural differences or for other reasons are not yet fully understood. This research provides a case study of village residents’ attitudes toward non-local youth’s participation in a festival, the Kumakabuto-Hatsuka-Matsuri, held annually in Ishikawa Prefecture, in the Hokuriku region. Logistic regression analysis using survey data yielded some informative findings. First, locals’ closed attitude toward participation by non-local youth is correlated with age, gender, and poorer relationships with local administrators and regional leaders. However, it was also found that a form of self-consciousness peculiar to Japan, that is, consciousness of the desire to be perceived well by others, did not apply to the maintenance of festivals. Further studies using different methods of data collection and statistical analysis are needed to obtain more generalizable findings; nevertheless, this study has revealed the attributes of people who think that local people should manage the traditional festivals in rural Japanese areas. This is a useful knowledge that administrative leaders and researchers of the region should take into consideration when introducing participation of students in such festivals to make it more effective.

Keywords: Traditional festival; Outsider; University student; Local resident; Rural depopulation (search for similar items in EconPapers)
JEL-codes: R00 R50 Z10 Z32 (search for similar items in EconPapers)
Date: 2021
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DOI: 10.1007/s41685-020-00172-6

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