Kumagusu Minakata, a world-renowned naturalist Japan has ever produced, came back to Japan in 1900 after 14 years of unique study experience abroad mainly in America and England. He settled in Wakayama Prefecture, his birthplace, until his death in 1941, particularly lived in Tanabe City for 37 years from 1904 to 1941.
Kumagusu devoted his entire life to studies of natural history and folklore, and contributed a number of articles to the British science magazine ‘Nature’ and the British folklore magazine ‘Notes and Queries.’ He was also actively involved in anti-shrine-consolidation protests and the nature conservation movement in Japan. He was worshipped as “a great scholar with no degree” and loved by the locals who called him Minakata Sensei (the teacher) or Minakata-san (Mr. Minakata), while branded by some as an oddball.
More than 60 years after his death, Kumagusu’s achievements and life history has been made clear by a number of books and papers including ‘the Complete Works of Kumagusu Minakata’ and ‘the Diary of Kumagusu Minakata,’ and the research is still ongoing.
In this section we will trace the life of Kumagusu to understand who he was and what he had pursued; his concern of natural environment and conservation, and his innovative approach presently known as ecology.
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