An Essay by Professor Yoshinori Hiroi Was Published in the “Words of Our Time” Column in the Evening Edition of the Kyoto Shimbun Newspaper (March 30th, 2021 Edition)
An essay by Prof. Yoshinori Hiroi was published in the “Words of Our Time” column in the evening edition of the Kyoto Shimbun newspaper (March 30th, 2021 edition).
Under the title “Biodiversity and a Myriad of Deities,” Prof. Hiroi introduces the discussion that was held at the Ministry of the Environment’s Research Group Meeting for the next National Biodiversity Strategy and Action Plan, of which he is a member. Referring to national biodiversity strategy for the future, Prof. Hiroi points out that the concept of “biodiversity” has something in common with the Japanese view that nature contains a “myriad of deities” (八百万の神様), which means that a god exists for everything in the nature.
The concept of “biodiversity” is based on biological and natural scientific knowledge. However, Prof. Hiroi argues that when we realize the significance and carry out conservation activities and practices related to it, it is also necessary to draw upon the ideas of Japanese traditional culture and view of nature, such as “a myriad of deities” or “the groves of forest shrines.”
In the essay, Prof. Hiroi points out the fact that the shape of Mt. Buko has changed considerably, for it has been actively mined for limestone since the end of World War II; although the mountain itself is “the goshintai” (an object worshipped as a repository in which a god or a spirit resides), the sacred body of the Chichibu-jinja Shrine (Chichibu City, Saitama Prefecture) and was registered by UNESCO as an intangible cultural heritage in 2016. When considering the themes of biodiversity or coexistence with nature, Prof. Hiroi notes the importance of public policies and socioeconomic viewpoints that are integrated with views on nature and culture.