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Re-localizing Japanese wine : the grape and wine clusters of Yamanashi Prefecture, Japan

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Item Summary

Title: Re-localizing Japanese wine : the grape and wine clusters of Yamanashi Prefecture, Japan
Authors: Kingsbury, Aaron John
Keywords: Yamanashi Prefecture
rural production
Japanese wine production
Issue Date: May 2012
Publisher: [Honolulu] : [University of Hawaii at Manoa], [May 2012]
Abstract: Place and production are closely linked in Japan's economic geography, but how?
This research examines a local industrial cluster (or jiba sangyō in Japanese) and its product. The unity of the place and product soon fracture under scrutiny. Producers are divided in several ways, using foreign ingredients in "local" products, and competing to re-invent traditions. Half the work of "production" is in cultivation of identities. Place itself is under construction, commoditized in the local product.
This dissertation takes a theoretical interest in rural production in industrial economies, the durability of community-based small producers, contested conventions demarcating place, and identities in products and practices. The case is Yamanashi Prefecture, core of grape and wine production in Japan. Globalization has minimized local grape content in Yamanashi wines, dividing wine-makers from table grape growers, historical suppliers of materials fermented. Correspondingly, local wine quality eroded, and the industry lost market share to imports. Can Yamanashi wine reinvent itself?
Fieldwork revealed the evolution of agents in the "industrial cluster" and today's structures of innovation in wine and grapes. Data include archival research, interviews with stakeholders, and participant observation as a grape grower. Chapters Two, Three, and Four find an overarching cluster division limiting institutional capacity and restricting technical product improvements. Nonetheless, some firms have connected wines from the Koshu grape (Vitis vinifera var. orientalis) to the constructed "identity" of local production. Chapter Five analyzes how wines from this grape are linking to "heritage," "locality," "Japanese-ness" and re-invented and marketable "places." This combination of simulacra is transmitted to consumers as "premium quality," creating a minor consumption boom of wines from Koshu grapes and new forms of tourism, examined in Chapter Six.
Benefits from re-branding are uneven. Production remains disarticulated and collapsing due to poor cooperation among industries and a failure of government.
Findings show the difficulties of legislating cluster development, integrating two struggling clusters, creating consumable winescapes, and moving a cluster from stagnant to embryonic growth. Economic geographers attributing local products' survival to cluster advantages must be ready to see the "cluster" as not one thing but many, vying for futures in realms of meanings.
Description: Ph.D. University of Hawaii at Manoa 2012.
Includes bibliographical references.
Appears in Collections:Ph.D. - Geography

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