Nature in Translation: Japanese Tourism Encounters the Canadian Rockies
This chapter establishes a theoretical framework for understanding cultural translations of nature. It explains the significance of the guides as cultural translators who mediate different worlds and move tourists, both physically and affectively. It situates their work in Japanese intellectual history since the 19th-century encounter with Western colonial powers, in which the translation of modern scientific and political knowledge has been a central struggle in Japan’s transformation into a modern nation-state. Nature, subjectivity, and freedom have been the most enigmatic yet important concepts in this process. The guides’ work reflect the legacy of cultural translation that led to the “discovery” of landscape and modern alpinism, new optics which privilege humans as autonomous subjects and made nature into objects of human appreciation. Furthermore, their work reflects the contemporary social context—the development of the post-WWII mass middle class and its recent crisis in post-Cold War political and neoliberal economic transformation.