Most undergraduate students about to join the social studies department in the faculty of education learned Japanese history or world history during high school, and therefore they tend to take less of an interest in geography than in history. However, when they are teachers they will have to teach all aspects of social studies, including geography. There is therefore a need for a specific geographical curriculum for an undergraduate course that enables students to understand the significance of the geographical perspective.
In this paper, I propose an example of a physical geography curriculum related to the famous historical highway Nakasendo, which connected the capital city Edo (the former name of Tokyo) to Kyoto for about 260 years starting from A.D. 1600. Most students are familiar with this highway, so I imagine that they would have a greater interest in a geographical curriculum that includes it. The aim of the proposed curriculum is to enable students to understand 1) the characteristics of the geomorphological conditions on and around the highway, 2) the origin and process of landforms along the highway, and 3) the interaction between landforms and human activity in the days when the highway was used. The curriculum also contains map work and fieldwork taking place along part of the highway.
The results of an anonymous questionnaire completed by students show that this curriculum is highly favored, suggesting that it is has the potential to help students understand the significance of the geographical perspective.