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The Groves of Village Shrines and Community Economies

2018 Applied Research

Research Topic

The Groves of Village Shrines and Community Economies

Lead Researcher

Yoshinori Hiroi, Professor, Kokoro Research Center, Kyoto University

Collaborating Researchers

Yoshihiro Miyashita, Director, Grove of the Village Shrines Community Research Institute Promotion Council
Tomokiyo Tanaka, Chief, Iwashimizu Hachiman Gu Shrine
Tetsushi Koike, Researcher, Dynax Urban Environment Research Institute
Daisuke Iida, Director, Social Welfare Organization Fukushi Gakudan
Toshihiro Matsuo, Director, J-WatER Council
Hiromi Matsuba, Researcher, Graduate School of the Humanities and Social Science, Chiba University

There are approximately 81,000 shrines and 86,000 temples across the country. There are 10,000 middle schools and 50,000 convenience stores. Although it is rare to have this many religious spaces distributed across a country, they faded from people’s consciousness as post-war Japan experienced a rapid population movement to cities and economic growth.
It is interesting that in recent years a phenomenon has arisen wherein the groves of village shrines have been reevaluated as precious community “social resources” and have been used as places for child rearing, elderly care, social welfare work and environmental education.
This research will be put into practice in the following forms. In “The grove of forest shrines: A natural energy community project”, we will reevaluate the groves of forest shrines from a contemporary point of view where they act as regional bases that unify communities and nature worship.
Therapy using the grove of forest shrines can be an intergenerational connecting pathway and a type of care through connection with nature. Hospice care in the groves can provide end-of-life care in at the super-aging era.
Additionally, we will investigate community economics to revitalize regions by bringing better circulation into the regional economy.