Development of Farmland in a Lagoon and Damage Caused by Storm Surge in 17th Century Japan
Historiographical Institute, The University of Tokyo
7-3-1 Hongo, Bunkyo-ku, Tokyo 113-0033, Japan
Japan is a mountainous country, and its mountains, formed as the result of tectonic uplift and volcanic activity, sit very close to the coastline. Short, steep rivers running down those mountains formed medium-sized alluvial plains in coastal areas. While the great majority of the coastal plains of Japan are alluvial, formed by the sedimentation of deposits carried by rivers, not all were formed solely by natural sedimentation. By artificially altering coastal tidelands and shallow inland lakes and marshes, the people of the Japanese archipelago gradually expanded their area for habitation and farming. In this paper, I take the Chuen Plain in the central part of the Japanese archipelago as an example to clarify how bodies of water were turned into land from the 16th century on, and I show what damage was done in this area of development by the storm surge caused by a huge typhoon at the end of the 17th century. We should consider that while turning bodies of water into land created more space for living and farming, it also increased the risk of natural disasters in daily life.
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