Japanese paddy field landscapes: A cross-cultural examination of scenic preferences

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Loeliger, Jennifer Blankenburg
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University of Guelph

Through an investigation of similarities and differences between Japanese and Canadian subjects' aesthetic preferences for typical Japanese paddy field landscapes, this cross-cultural study examined the local versus universal value of threatened Japanese agricultural landscapes. Results revealed far more preference variations than similarities. These between-group differences support suggestions that because landscape preferences are influenced by "learned" factors like familiarity, experience, or culture, dissimilar cultural groups will often exhibit dissimilar preferences. However, one type of Japanese paddy field landscape, the "Wide Mountain Area", elicited equally positive responses from the Japanese and Canadian subject groups. This exceptional similarity additionally supports suggestions that certain landscape preferences are commonly shared and exist, despite group differences, beneath layers of cultural influences at deeper, perhaps "innate", levels of aesthetic response. The Japanese paddy field landscapes that elicit similar local and extra-local preferences may, therefore, represent universally valued landscapes especially worthy of both immediate and continuing conservation efforts.

Japanese, Canadian, aesthetic preferences, Japanese paddy field landscape, local value, universal, Japanese agricultural landscapes