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Deutsches Institut für Japanstudien
Conceptualizing communicative spaces in rural areas in Japan and Germany
Example for a communicative space in an abandoned elementary school in rural Japan © Christina & Sebastian Polak-Rottmann


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    Conceptualizing communicative spaces in rural areas in Japan and Germany

    December 11, 2023

    Rural areas in Japan have been facing challenges due to ongoing demographic decline and high rates of aging. Against this backdrop, research points out increasing difficulties in sustaining local communities, their traditions and their resilience towards disasters. Despite and also because of these dynamics, rural areas simultaneously are home to vibrant places that offer space for deliberation, communication, networking and political activities. While some of these spaces can be small in size, focusing on specific local problems, others may have goals reaching far beyond the local sphere. This workshop (language: English) brought together scholars who have been analyzing and conceptualizing such spaces in their research in Japan and Germany. In the first part, each speaker presented their approach to these spaces in an open discussion format amongst the participants. The second part opened the floor to a small-scale audience to conceptualize together these dynamic spaces and to reflect on the differences between Japan and Germany. We also invited guests who play an active role in communicative spaces to share their experiences and engage in discussion with the speakers. The aim of the workshop was to exchange ideas on how these places might help to deal with current challenges in rural areas and to establish a network of scholars and practitioners working on the topic.


    11:00-11:15 Opening remarks
    11:15-12:00 Claudia NEU (Universität Göttingen): Disparities – Loneliness – Cohesion
    12:00-12:45 Sebastian POLAK-ROTTMANN (DIJ Tokyo): Finding “Places of Resilience” in Aging Rural Japan
    12:45-14:15 Lunch break
    14:15-15:00 OKADA Norio (Kwansei Gakuin University): “Communicative Spaces”-Evidenced-Based Case Models, Conceptualization, and Challenges for Design
    15:00-15:45 YAMA Yoshiyuki (Kwansei Gakuin University): Experiences from a “philosophical café” in rural Japan
    15:45-16:15 Coffee break
    16:15-17:45 Open discussion (Input statement: WATANABE Mariko (Talmary Café and Bakery)