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Research Group Division of GeoEnvironmental Science


Human geography Research Group

•Professor (Graduate School of Environmental Studies) Tomoki Nakaya,
specializing inGeographic Information Science, Health Geography, Spatial Epidemics
•Associate Professor Yuzuru Isoda, specializing in Economic Geography
•Associate Professor (Graduate School of Environmental Studies) Tomoya Hanibuchi,
specializing in Social and Geographic Research Methods, Health Geography
•Assistant Professor (Graduate School of Environmental Studies) Ryohei Sekine,
specializing in Human Geography, and Agricultural Geography

Human Geography

Varieties of human habitat exist in the world, from large urban agglomerations with tens of million population such as in New York or Tokyo, to dispersed settlement in Australia or sparsely populated nomadic regions. These habitats are neither isolated nor fixed. In geography, a spatial extent that has commonality or coherence in the habitat is conceptualized as a “region”. Regions are continuously evolving with various changes in the environment, cultural and technological, and in the relationships among regions. In some cases, environmental issues that threaten the sustainable habitat along the process may arise. Human geography explores the local habitat and the relationships between regions to reveal the conditions of formation and the processes of change of such various human habitats. It also explores social and environmental issues that a region is or are going to face through the spatial analyses. Against the backdrop of such discipline, the Human Geography Group focus on following research themes.

Changes in the Cities

Various regions exist within a city such as affluent, deprived or ethnic neighborhoods, and are changing overtime. Furthermore, the resources that an individual in a city can have access to is determined by the means available to that individual such as transportation or ICT. We study the changes in the urban form and segregation and associated regional and social disparities, and the causes of such changes.

Environmental Factors and Geographical disparities in Health

A sub-discipline dealing with the determinants of health and their uneven distribution is called medical or health geography. Factors such as segregation affecting income and educational disparities or walkability, a local environment that allows to spend daily lives by walking, and various other factors are examined to reveal the geographical disparities in health.

Geographical disparities in walkability that encourages physical activity. Source: https://doi.org/10.3390/ijerph121013350


Spatial diffusion and interaction

Phenomenon that diffuses and/or repeats over space, such as a spread of a disease or spatiotemporal patterns of crime are examined with mathematical methods. The foundation to such phenomenon is the spatial interaction, linkages among regions through movement of people, etc. It is explored using geographical big data and modelling.

Spatiotemporal map of COVID-19: the vertical axis (facing towards you) is the temporal axis. Source: https://nakaya-geolab.com/covid19-stkd/japan/


Disaster Research

Disaster is the cross-section of natural and social sciences, and as a social science group belonging in the school of science, we are actively engaged in disaster research. Disaster subcultures that local society prepare for, deals to and recover from recurrent disaster; community resilience to disaster; changes in local environment after a disaster; and the different ways in which regional society and economy responds to a disaster are being studied.

Promoting Rural and Peripheral Regions

While urbanization is occurring globally, there are groups of people who maintain their traditional livelihoods. In Japan, rural areas are threatened by ageing and depopulation for sustainability of their communities. We study methods to promote such areas through re-evaluate the traditional resource management methods that had been sustainable for ages, with the help of advanced cases that incorporated innovative ideas.

At a settlement of Zao, an ethnic minority, in Vietnam, asking for their paddy fields.


Method Development

To solve the above research, we also develop new methods. Using Geographical Information Systems (GIS), data visualization for intuitive understanding of the otherwise complex phenomenon and spatial data analysis methods including spatial statistics that is suitable to geographical information are being developed. New tools for social and geographic research such as online surveys and landscape observation are also examined.