This is an ethnography of nature in translation. In par­tic­u­lar, the book
focuses on Japa­nese tour guides living in Banff—­Canada’s iconic na-
tional park—­and examines how they translated vari­ous notions of ­
nature for tourists from Japan.
The experiences of the Japa­nese tour guides elucidate how transla-
tion of nature is not only about the superficial differences of cultural
aesthetics, such as the idea that the Japa­nese love manicured gardens
with bonsai-­like trees, whereas North Americans like rugged landscapes
of untouched wilderness. Translation of nature concerns what counts
as ­ human, what kind of society is envisioned, and who is included in the
society as a legitimate subject.
The backdrop of this ethnography is the heightened sense of crisis
about the Japa­nese economy since the 1990s: The so-­called Japanese-­
style corporate system and work relations developed and praised as the
source of Japan’s post–­World War II economic success ­were severely
challenged and became targets of harsh neoliberal reform. In this social
environment, quite a number of young Japa­nese “escaped” from Japan
to go overseas for self-­searching travel.
In par­tic­u­lar, the “magnificent nature” (daishizen) of North Ame­rica
had a strong allure in attracting some of these Japa­nese, many of whom
projected a vision of a utopian space for freedom onto the vast natu­ral
landscape in North Ame­rica. A journey to magnificent nature has been
Prologue A Journey to Magnificent Nature  .  .  . ​
or Why Nature Needs to Be
Understood in Translation
Previous Page Next Page