The results from the first dataset revealed that people most valued the Cultural Services provided by rural landscapes, and there was a wide array of such Cultural Services. The majority of people highly valued the presence of human life and the beauty of natural landscapes including mountains and rivers in rural area. People also valued them as places where they could feel the passing of the seasons and a sense of history and traditions. Natural elements including the presence of other animals were also important. It was also revealed that many people still value the rural landscape as an agricultural production site.
The results from the second dataset demonstrated the image of the rural landscape as consisting of nature, mountains, rivers, forest, homeland, and a place for relaxation. The results also showed that 10 % of people felt that they wanted to live in rural areas in the future. In comparison with the answer for the reasons why they cannot live in rural areas, it was revealed that the majority of people were worried about their jobs, money, and practicalities such as access to shopping facilities or doctors.
If the government attempted to follow Scenario B proposed by Japan Scenarios Towards Low-Carbon Society, which aims to shift people’s lifestyle toward one “calmer, slower, and more nature oriented” based in rural areas, it is important to understand public attitudes toward rural lifestyle. The results from this study outlined the general tendency and major challenges.
The following areas are the potential options that would bring people to engage more with rural landscapes and could bring gradual revitalization of rural landscapes.
• Beautiful landscapes of nature that provide a sense of history, culture, and traditional living are required for people to visit rural areas.
• A sense of belonging, seasons, events, tourism, a circle of people, Satoyama activities, and social interaction are required for people to get involved in rural areas
• Jobs such as attractive agriculture, the renewable energy sector, or remote access to offices using the Internet, and social interaction are required for people to live there.
These findings show that there are still considerable challenges to be overcome so that “Satoyama” lifestyles could be seen as having a realistic role in the development of a low carbon society.
Acknowledgments This research is partly supported by Environment Research and Technology Development Fund, E-0902 “Ecosystem Services Assessment of Satoyama, Satochi and Satoumi to Identify New Commons for Nature-Harmonious Society” (Project Leader: Masataka Watanabe).