Turbulent Streams

An Environmental History of Japan’s Rivers, 1600–1930


In Turbulent Streams: An Environmental History of Japan’s Rivers, 1600–1930, Roderick I. Wilson describes how the rivers of Japan are both hydrologically and historically dynamic. Today, these waterways are slowed, channeled, diverted, and dammed by a myriad of levees, multiton concrete tetrapods, and massive multipurpose dams. In part, this intensive engineering arises from the waterways falling great elevations over short distances, flowing over unstable rock and soil, and receiving large quantities of precipitation during monsoons and typhoons. But this modern river regime is also the product of a history that narrowed both these waterways and people’s diverse interactions with them in the name of flood control. Neither a story of technological progress nor environmental decline, this history introduces the concept of environmental relations as a category of historical analysis both to explore these fluvial interactions and reveal underappreciated dimensions of Japanese history.

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Roderick I. Wilson, Ph.D., Stanford University, is Assistant Professor of History at the University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign where he teaches and writes about topics in Japanese and environmental history.
List of Figures and Tables
Note to Readers

 1 A Riparian History of Ogura Lake
 2 Crossing the River between Nature and Society
 3 Riparian Relations: An Expanded Understanding of Rivers
 4 Chapter Organization

Part 1: Regional River Regimes in the Tokugawa Period

1 Riparian Relations in the Kantō Region
 1 Producing the Kantō Region and Its Riverscapes during the Seventeenth Century
 2 Water Worlds of Farmers, Fishers, and Boat Pilots
 3 Conclusion

2 Regional River Regime under the Tokugawa Government
 1 Establishing Tokugawa Governance over the Waters of the Kantō Region, 1590–1700
 2 Maintaining Riparian Governance in the Kantō Region, 1700–1783
 3 Losing Ground against Continued Flooding, 1783–1868
 4 Conclusion

Part 2: Techno-Politics of River Engineering in Imperial Japan

3 Engineering and River Engineers in the Age of Imperialism
 1 The Home Ministry’s Early Riparian Policies
 2 The Fudō River Worksite
 3 Dutch Engineers in Japan
 4 Educating Japanese Engineers: The French Connection
 5 Conclusion

4 Confluence along the Yodo River
 1 The Yodo River
 2 Home Ministry Engineers
 3 Local Communities
 4 Conclusion

5 Constructing the Modern River Regime in Japan
 1 Making Modern River Regimes
 2 Techno-Politics of Flood Control
 3 The 1910 Flooding of Tokyo and Paris
 4 The Effects of Building Japan’s Modern River Regime
 5 Conclusion

All interested in Tokugawa and modern Japanese history, water and environmental history, and those interested in new approaches to human-environment relations.