"Jappalachia": Connections Between the Appalachian Trail and Japan’s Shinetsu Trail

This exhibit, "Jappalachia": Connections Between the Appalachian Trail and Japan's Shinetsu Trail, explores the relationship between Japan’s Shinetsu Trail and the United States’ Appalachian Trail (AT), two nationally funded long-distance trails established during times of increasing industrialization in which people’s relationships to the environment were changed. Though some of these connections may be surprising, the relationships between the two trails reveal the manifold purposes and unique aspects of the places they serve. The two trails also reflect the power of transnational connections, largely made by the lead founder of the Shinetsu Trail, nature writer and backpacker Katō Noriyoshi (1949–2013). Katō’s interest in American environmental thought and local pride in the environment profoundly shaped the creative and organizational aspects of the Shinetsu Trail.


View of the Shinetsu Trail from the curator's thru-hike. Photo  by Sarah Adams.


Established in 2008, the Shinetsu Trail runs for eighty kilometers (fifty miles) in the Sekida Mountains in eastern Japan. Although it was established almost ninety years after the AT, the Shinetsu Trail was part of a response to similar historical changes in the country such as industrialization and rural flight. Japan’s long-trail movement grows out of this combination of elements from the AT and Shinetsu Trail, and introduces new approaches to long trails as well, such as the Michinoku Coastal Trail built after the 3/11 disaster in the Tōhoku region. At the same time, Japan’s associations of traditional culture with the environment that existed before the advent of long trails are reflected in the Shinetsu Trail’s distinct engagement with regional history and culture. Connections between the two trails reflect the changing and continuous ways that long trails are valued and contribute to our relationships to the environment.


Note: All Japanese names are in “last name, first name” notation, except for names that appear in citations.



この展示では、日本の信越トレイルと米国のアパラチアントレイルの関係を考察します。どちも長距離トレイルで、工業化が進み人々と環境の関係が変化した時代に、国からの資金で設立されました。2つのトレイルにはいくつかの驚くべき共通点があり、その多様な役割と独特な側面を明らかにします。信越トレイルの創設者であり、ネイチャーライターでバックパッカーの加藤則芳 (1949–2013)のアメリカの環境思想への関心と環境に対する地元の誇りは、信越トレイルの創造的で組織的な側面を深く形作りました。加藤によって見出された、国境を越えたつながりの影響力も、2つのトレイルに反映しています。


2008年に設立された信越トレイルは、東日本の関田山脈を通る80キロ(50マイル)のトレイルです。約90年前のアパラチアントレイル設立と同様に、工業化や過疎化などの、国内の歴史的変化への対応の一環として設立されました。日本のロングトレイル運動は、アパラチアントレイルと信越トレイルの要素を組み合わせて発展し、東北地方で3/11の災害後に建設されたみちのく潮風トレイルのように、ロングトレイルへの新しいアプローチも提起しています。同時に、長距離トレイルが出現する前から存在していた、日本の伝統文化と環境との関連性は、信越トレイルが地域の歴史や文化と独自の関わりを持っていることにも反映されています。 2つのトレイルのつながりは、長距離トレイルへの変化し続ける評価と、人と環境との関係の改善に有効な方法を示唆しています。

“Jappalachia”: Connections Between the Appalachian Trail and Japan’s Shinetsu Trail was curated by Sarah Adams '20 for the 2020 Student Research at YUL exhibit project. This exhibit was inspired by her experiences on the Appalachian Trail and her family’s personal connection to Katō Noriyoshi (1949–2013), one of the founders of the Shinetsu Trail. Energized by Katō’s dedication to sharing the experience of hiking a long trail with others, through conversations with individuals who helped found the Shinetsu Trail and people who are involved with it today, Sarah investigated how the connections between the two trails developed, exploring how the concept of a "long trail" has traveled through the world and evolved relationships to the environment. Personal photos from her thru-hike of the Shinetsu Trail in the summer of 2019 are featured along with other sources that aided her exploration of this subject for Sarah's senior thesis for her major in Environmental Studies. Sarah hopes that this exhibit can illustrate the relationships between the two trails and strengthen the budding international partnership between them.   


"Through this exhibit, I wanted to share how the idea of a long trail evolves in the world and fits into existing relationships to the environment. I hope that seeing the writings of Katō Noriyoshi, sights from my time hiking the Shinetsu Trail, and library sources that provide social and historical context can help strengthen the relationship and budding partnership between the Shinetsu Trail and the Appalachian Trail."

Sarah Adams, Yale College, Environmental Studies '20


Watch a recording of Sarah Adams as she talks about her research process using Yale University Library collections, her work with her collaborators, and the development of her thesis into an exhibit.