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Deutsches Institut für Japanstudien

Ludgera Lewerich

Modern Japanese Studies
(PhD Students, April 1, 2016 - November 30, 2016)

Research interests

  • ŸConcepts of identity and ethnicity
  • Minorities in Japan
  • Dementia and local welfare
  • Deurbanisation; urban-rural migration

Research project

Self-realization in the Japanese countryside? Narratives of I-turn migration. (Working title)

The rural regions of Japan have for decades been affected by demographic ageing and depopulation. Buzzwords like shattā shōtengai (shopping streets with closed-down shops), akiya (abandoned homes) or genkai shūraku (literally: villages on the edge; villages on the verge of extinction) reflect a popular narrative of the vanishing Japanese countryside. At the same time words like inaka and furusato often evoke quite a different image: an idyllic rural village surrounded by hills and rice paddies.

In the last years media stories have painted a picture of a growing number of Japanese longing for a simple rural life and moving to the countryside. My research project focuses on these urban-rural migrants and their quests for a better life. What kind of migration narrative do they construct? What motivations for moving will they mention, and how do they present their life since migrating to the countryside? Do they motion specific values and what roles fulfill the countryside, a life closer to nature in their stories? I further intend to look at the interaction and possible community building between those newcomers and the oldcomer villagers. My research will be carried out through qualitative methods, especially narrative interviews and participant observation.