Anthropological Science, vol. 104, issue 1 (1996) pp. 65-82
Kombu, an edible wild seaweed species, has played an important role in the economy of fishing villages in Hokkaido Island, Japan. Based on ecological and anthropological fieldwork on the kombu harvest, the following aspects are examined: (1) the heavy economic dependence of the villagers on kombu; (2) the process of harvesting and drying kombu; (3) the influence of weather on the quality of dried kombu; (4) the role of the hatamochi who decides when to permit the harvest; (5) factors affecting the hatamochi's decisions on the harvest; and (6) other collectors' responses to the hatamochi's decisions. From these descriptions and analyses, it is concluded that kombu collectors need the hatamochi in order to produce kombu of good quality, and that the system results in effective resource use.
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