Living in harmony with nature according to Satoyama, a concept of Japanese origin

Young people should learn to appreciate nature, so we will always think that man and nature are inseparable

Photo source: Agoda

IN CONJUNCTION with Environment Day 2021, various issues of environmental conservation, preservation and sustainability are frequently raised.

Many suggestions and environmental improvements are also offered every day. Multiple existing and proposed laws and regulations are in place, however, are the proposed outcomes what is desired?

The authors are delighted to see an ancient village on Lake Biwa that is five times the size of the city of Paris located in Kyoto, Japan, where it is one of Japan’s Secret Lakes. The village was built using water sources and water as part of their daily life.

The sight of this village is like a water village and a rice paddy village like in Kuala Pilah and others in Malaysia. The view at the foot of the mountain or hill is magnificent, it looks like it is untouched by urban development. This village is known as Satoyama, which means “village at the foot of the mountain”.

Satoyama is also a symbol of the Japanese way of life which emphasizes living in harmony with nature. It can mean developing natural resources such as rivers, seas and springs, without damaging these natural resources, the sight of fish swimming freely and fish can be caught for use as a daily food source, like sushi, without have to buy fish in the market. It is said that there is a difference in taste between wild fish and caged fish.

The scenery and quiet life of Lake Biwa village in Kyoto can be seen in other countries around the world like at the foot of the Alps in Switzerland, New Zealand, Austria, Italy, etc.

Malaysia is also teeming with such natural beauty that can be seen on the trip from Ranau to Kota Belud with its clean river and big wild fish swimming happily until the fishing season is cleared. It is the natural environment of God’s gift to Malaysians; it’s up to us whether we like it or not.

A fish and chip vendor from a rural English village in England once asked us about Malaysia. According to him through reading the media, Malaysia is a forest country.

So what is one of the main products of the country? We proudly said yes, our country may still have many more jungles, but our country exports cars. Malaysian cars, whether Proton or Perodua, are said to be very popular among the English due to their small size, which is sufficient for their families who are mostly also small, while the Malaysians prefer to buy Japanese cars to accommodate large numbers of passengers as many of the Malaysian population has a total number of families of five and over.

Let us return to the issue of the environment in Malaysia, where environmental protection is also considered one of the interests of Sharia law. According to the liberal conception, the environment is like an object. But according to those who profess religions, there are also ethical procedures vis-à-vis the environment.

It is said that plants and animals also glorify God, so the environment should not be underestimated and treated arbitrarily.

There are a number of things to keep in mind for environmental sustainability, aside from topical issues such as haze, air pollution, illegal logging, landslides. land, commercial agriculture damaging native crops, etc.

First, the rich natural landscape of the country must be developed and fully utilized for the comfort and well-being of the population in general and the inhabitants in particular.

For example, all existing natural parks such as parks with lakes, forests, hills, etc. must be developed to become places of recreation, for example for walking, jogging, etc. Unfortunately, there are many more natural places that are beautiful but not yet developed, still wooded, on footpaths that are not yet traced and also lakes or rivers left dirty.

It is recommended that every small town have a place of recreation for the local community to relax, as this can encourage Malaysians to stay healthy for exercise.

In addition, this activity is beneficial in burning fat and sugar which are very present in the daily diet of Malaysia, such as nasi lemak, roti canai and the tarik. This enables Malaysians not only to protect the environment, but also to take care of their physical and mental health, killing two birds with one stone.

During exercise, endorphins will be released, which will increase the degree of happiness of people. In the future, research to show whether happiness odds increase if there are places of recreation should be conducted to test the hypothesis. Therefore, social and mental problems can decrease in these times of increasing stress. These activities can also encourage Malaysians to spend time outdoors when the movement control order ends, rather than wasting time on the internet.

Second, attitudes and habits towards the environment, as well as awareness campaigns should be established. A Japanese friend living in my house was very surprised to see me throwing used oil down the drain as if I had made a big mistake. Akiko carefully threw the oil into the large tissues. Therefore, we suggest stepping up recycling campaigns and providing amenities such as free recycling bins.

We see that environmental governance is often done in a command and control approach, which in my opinion is not the best way of environmental governance. For example, force people to recycle and impose fines. Recycling bins should be distributed free to every household and people should be taught to recycle.

Environmental awareness education begins with a simple ‘don’t throw garbage everywhere’ which, if not enforced, gives people in some states nicknames such as ‘rubbish state’, and young people should learn to appreciate nature, so we will always think of the human. and nature as inseparable and living harmoniously united.

If the Satoyama concept is understood, appreciated and put into practice, it may be able to preserve many of our country’s ancient villages for the sake of environmental sustainability, instead of being a commercial promotion of luxury hillside village homes. hill, the price of which can go up to million ringgits. This may deviate from the original objective of preserving the environment and the original inhabitants of the village.

The next step must be coherent and sustainable for the well-being and harmony of humans and the environment.

Dr Noor Dzuhaidah Osman is Senior Lecturer at the Faculty of Sharia and Law at Universiti Sains Islam Malaysia, while Dr Suraya Abdul Sani and Wan Abdul Rahman Wan Idrus are Senior Lecturer and Research Assistant at the Faculty, respectively. of Science and Natural Resources at Universiti Malaysia Sabah.


The opinions expressed are those of the authors and do not necessarily reflect the position of the owners and the editorial board of the journal.


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