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Deutsches Institut für Japanstudien

Housing and living arrangements in Japan's ageing society

 June 2007 - March 2013

Housing is an essential component of everybody's life. How housing is organized and designed, however, is closely tied to the given circumstances of a society, its culture and history. Therefore, living arrangements are important manifestations of a society, its structure and values. In recent years a fundamental change has occurred with regard to household forms and numbers of aged persons in Japan, with elderly-only households strongly increasing. Furthermore, new housing types have emerged that extend the choice of housing considerably beyond conventional housing and institutional housing (nursing homes). These changes are not only responses to the growing number of elderly people due to the demographic development, but also indicate that the role and perception of Japan’s elderly have been in transition.

Although not large in numbers yet, alternative forms of housing and living, originating in most cases from the initiative of citizens and non-profit organizations, try to accommodate the desire for individual living and to provide an infrastructure of communal living or mutual help. Some of their features have even been incorporated into public house building and institutional forms of housing.

This research project explores the social changes underlying recent developments in the field of elderly housing on the basis of present housing and living situations. Special attention is focused on alternative forms of housing and living. One of the approaches used is qualitative interviews with residents to explore their housing histories.


October 22 - October 23, 2010
Symposia and Conferences
Life Courses in Flux

October 16, 2008
Housing the Elderly in Japan


Maren Godzik Maren Godzik (until March 2013)
Japanology, Sociology