Tsunesaburo Makiguchi
Value-Creating Education

Rather than provide knowledge itself, we must encourage the joy and excitement that arise from learning.

more quotes

Tsunesaburo Makiguchi
Home » Resources » Selected Translations » The Geography of Human Life print

The Geography of Human Life

Although the physical setting which I attempt to discuss in this book may be limited in this way, when we observe the local community in a careful and ordered manner, we can discover that there is an infinite array of materials for study and learning. The conditions of vast expanses of heaven and earth are largely revealed in even the tiniest plot of land. Thus it is possible to grasp in outline the great and complex phenomena of the geography of the nations of the world through the examples found in a small and isolated village or town. If we first clearly understand the geography of the local community, the phenomena of a single town or village, we may easily understand the geography of all nations. Thus the proper order for research in geography is first to scrupulously observe the local community and from this to derive and settle the principles to be applied to geographic phenomena generally. Let no one take this lightly or disregard it as the shallow and too common first stages of geographic studies. [1903]1


Now as we set about observing the elements of the local community, turning our gaze in the four surrounding directions, at once a multitude of remarkable forms and shapes crowd our vision, competing for our attention and demanding our engagement, and nullifying, it would seem, our capacity to respond. We find ourselves at a loss as to how to choose among these, what to take and what to leave. Fortunately, there are a number of rules established by our predecessors over the course of past centuries and millennia to guide us here. If we follow these rules, we may be able to determine, at least to some degree, the proper order for observation. To wit, "from the close to the distant," "from the simple to the complex," "from the familiar to the unfamiliar," "from the whole to the parts," "from the outline to the details," "from cause to effect or, conversely, from effect to cause," "from the tangible to the intangible," and "from the component individual to the entirety." [1903]2


For example, our Empire of Greater Japan is, within this global economic market, a rather run-down shop occupying a long, narrow, bumpy and uneven site on Pacific Avenue from Latitude 21°to 51°North, Longitude 120°to 156°East. The Japanese people sit in the storefront warming themselves by the fire, nonchalantly smoking tobacco and waiting for customers. Japan is a nation of 40 million store clerks, a silk or tea or dry goods shop with a cherry blossom mark over the entryway. [1903]3


From the observations in the preceding two sections I sense both the necessity and the possibility of describing at some length the distinction between island nations and maritime nations. Spurred by the kinds of stimuli described above, humankind set determinedly out onto the oceans and, in doing so, we have come to realize that the oceans are not to be feared, but to be understood and appreciated, like an intimate friend. Further, we have come to see that even the most distant and exotic places can be reached if we are determined to do so, and on the path to reaching these places we can savor the wonders of being almost completely free from the complications and interferences of human artifice. Knowing this, who would let themselves fall into the backward-looking hesitations common to those who have withdrawn to a landlocked way of life? [1903]4


There is no simple formula for this humanitarianism. Rather, all activities, whether of a political, military or economic nature, should be conducted in conformity with the principles of humanitarianism. What is important is to set aside egotistical motives, striving to protect and improve not only one's own life, but also the lives of others. One should do things for the sake of others, because by benefiting others, we benefit ourselves. This means to engage consciously in collective life. [1903]5