Marine Landscapes of the Inland Sea Region
by Michelle Damian
Talk given at the Dec. 8-9, 2010 Conference
This talk will introduce proposed research for my Ph.D. dissertation. Though Japan is an archipelago, the contributions and identities of its maritime communities have been marginalized. More effort has been expended on agrarian and urban settlements. My project will examine island and coastal communities of the Seto Inland Sea to understand the developing maritime cultural landscape during the Muromachi era (1336–1573). Doing so will reveal not only a new economic dynamic, by shifting the focus from solely a rice-based economy to assess the fiscal contributions of marine-based communities. It will also clarify the prominence of the sea itself in daily life. Japan’s coastline spans thousands of miles. The effects of such a geographic environment manifest themselves in the determination of settlement patterns, the creation of maritime infrastructure, and the development of ritual ways of interacting with the sea. I intend to reposition the sea at the heart of Muromachi Japan, to reveal those previously ignored cultural, economic, and technological contributions of littoral communities.