Fifteen years have passed since Food and Agriculture Organization (FAO) launched the Globally Important Agricultural Heritage Systems (GIAHS) project in 2002. In this time, participation from East Asian countries has been increasing rapidly with interest flowing over into several related subjects and disciplines. Culture is one of the selection criteria that has to be satisfied to become a GIAHS site, and equally culture plays an important role in the development of tourism to a destination. However, few scientists or GIAHS members have discussed directly how to apply cultural features in GIAHS. Therefore, the purposes of this paper are firstly to recognize the importance and contribution of culture in GIAHS. Then, through detailing the current forms of cultural management in the GIAHS located in Japan, Korea, and China, we identify some of the key cultural problems and prospects in those sites. Two social surveys conducted in Japan show that culture is a prime motivation for tourist visitation, as well as being a core GIAHS selection criteria. These surveys further highlight that GIAHS needs to incorporate culture more effectively into their management strategies. Detailed descriptions of the three countries analyzed in this paper outline each has to engage with particular cultural management challenges: Japan has a well-arranged list of cultural assets, but is unclear how to move forward with that information and data. Korea has just begun to generate a strategy on how to manage cultural heritage features in GIAHS with the use of approaches such as Agrostories or Gil tourism, in recognition of the gradual changes that are occurring in local identity. China has the longest history of engagement with GIAHS in the East Asia region. However, the utilization of the model here has recognized further issues of change in cultural identity not least through commercialization. This paper therefore identifies, discusses and arranges eight problems and prospects for collaborative research on aspects of cultural management amongst the GIAHS in East Asia.
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