Geography Major

Since 2002, the Geography Major has been a part of the 21st Century COE Program and Global COE Program of the Ministry of Culture, Society, Science and Technology, whose objective is to produce a global center of excellence. The staff plays a key role in two projects at present.

Global COE Program (completed)

Disaster Mitigation of Urban Cultural Heritage (2007–2013)

This program is the fourth COE program at Ritsumeikan University. The objective of the program is to establish strategies for disaster mitigation of cultural heritage, which has been a niche area of interest in research. To achieve this objective, the center has set the following three objectives: to clarify the reality of disasters, to offer a solution to mitigate disasters, and to review and modify social practices. Researchers of geography, history, civil engineering, architectonics, informatics, and policy science participate in this interdisciplinary research. Professor Akihisa Yoshikoshi (a vice leader of the center) and Professor Hirofumi Katahira (a member of the center) have taken part in this program via the Geography Major.

Global COE Program (completed)

Digital Humanities Center for Japanese Arts and Cultures (2007–2011)

This program is a successor of the 21st Century COE Program “Kyoto Art Entertainment Innovation Research.” The objective of the program is to assess and apply information from the previous COE program on a global level. The center had built up a model to integrate humanities and science using the most advanced information technology, international network, and education and research model for Japanese arts and cultures. Professor Keiji Yano (executive director and group leader) and Professor Tomoki Nakaya (group member) ran the Historical GIS Group.

21st Century COE Program (completed)

Kyoto Art Entertainment Innovation Research (2002–2007)

Professor Keiji Yano (the leader of the project) and almost all of the academic staff in the Geography Major took part in the “Kyoto Virtual Time Space” project. The staff in this project constructed a virtual time space (4D GIS from past to present) of Kyoto, which is a historic city that is renowned globally. In particular, the city space in Kyoto in the present, the postwar period, and the early modern period were visualized and overlapped with Map Cube TM, which is a high-precision urban 3D model in present Kyoto.

In addition to the above research projects, the academic staff members associated with the Geography Major conduct individual research. Please see the Staff Page for details of individual research topics.

Regional Tourism Major

Research relevant to the Regional Tourism Major is multidisciplinary. The research has been conducted in collaboration with researchers of geography, sociology, anthropology, economics, business management, and natural environment studies, who belong to the Area Studies Program at Ritsumeikan University, other faculties of the university, and even other universities and research institutions. Principally, the research in the major has been conducted by Professor Hideki Endo, Professor Masato Ikuta, Professor Norifumi Kawahara, Professor Koji Kanda Professor Masami Fujimaki and Associate Professor Rika Yamamoto. Fieldwork-based research of tourism phenomena are conducted all over the world, particularly in Japan, East Asia, and Southeast Asia. Currently, the Regional Tourism Major has been undertaking the following three research subjects in tourism.

1. Dark Tourism and Volunteer Tourism

Researchers pursuing this major have started to conduct research on dark tourism (a form of tourism activity in which tourists visit disaster-affected and battlefield areas) and volunteer tourism after the devastating Great East Japan Earthquake on March 11, 2011. The research questions are as follows:

  1. Why do people visit such depressing places, which are apparently very different from conventional tourist destinations?
  2. What motivates tourists to visit such places?
  3. How can the dark tourism and volunteer tourism phenomena be understood in the context of the wider social and cultural settings?

2. Globalization and Tourism in Asia

This research project, which has been supported by The Institution of Humanities, Human and Social Science at Ritsumeikan University, intends to explore contemporary trends in mobility, tourism, and the process of tourism-scape creation in Asia. Moreover, the project explores how well community-based tourism development contributes to socially excluded citizens (e.g., ethnic minorities, the disabled, and the poor) in Malaysia.

3. Pro-Poor Tourism

This project explores the possibility that tourism can contribute to alleviate poverty in Southeast Asia. Multidisciplinary research has been conducted, which includes geographical, social, anthropological, economic, political, and policy science perspectives to identify the best practice of tourism development for pro-poor.

Please see the following websites for the research outcomes from these projects: