This panel explores recent trends in Japanese youth to migrate to remote rural areas or foreign countries in their quest for a personally fulfilling life. Panel presenters will discuss their respective ethnographic findings from a broad range of sites in and beyond Japan.
This panel explores recent trends in Japanese youth to migrate to remote rural areas or foreign countries in their quest for a personally fulfilling life. Mobility can be understood as a way of making sense of and relating to the world - this goes for mobile individuals who reorient themselves career-wise as a way of regaining meaning in life as well as for short-term tourists, mid-term volunteers seeking gratification by making a social contribution or start-up entrepreneurs on remote islands. The panel will bring together scholars from the US and Japan who will discuss individuals who have relocated to Northeast Japan since the Great East Japan Earthquake, Japanese migrants in the United States who seek balance and meaning through the engagement in alternative healing practices and lifestyle migrants who relocate to remote rural areas in their attempts to pursue lives that enhance their career prospects and contribute to their overall life satisfaction. The focus of the panel is on the process of identity negotiation: Individuals often narrate that they have relocated to 're-establish themselves' by pursuing projects they consider meaningful; yet interviewees tend to refer to their previous lives, places of living, lifestyles and former jobs. This panel draws on the notion of 'lifestyle mobilities' (Cohen, Duncan and Thulemark 2013) that focus on the blurred boundaries between travel, leisure and migration and are exemplary of neither 'here' nor 'there' (White and White 2004) as migrants may be geographically distant from friends and family, thus being in a liminal stateWe aim to ethnographically explore individual narratives about migrants' present transregional/transnational lifestyles that are characterized by collapsing binaries of work and leisure, multiple moorings with regard to place and identity and a high extent of satisfaction with regard to life quality, yet also make evident that they struggle with considerable insecurity and precariousness. Questions at the core of this panel are mobility as a means of overcoming a sense of missing meaning and precarity that exceeds the economical and negotiations of identity by individuals that engage in mobility that is not merely geographical.