Accepted Paper:

'I'm a misfit in Japan.': the search for a sense of individuality among Japanese youths  

Author:

Ayako Suzuki (SOAS)

Paper Short Abstract:

This paper examines the intersection between the imaginings of a better lifestyle and mobility. By ethnographically exploring the migration experiences of Japanese temporary migrants living in Dublin, I aim to unpack the implications of the ideas of 'good life.'

Paper long abstract:

The desire for improved livelihoods is a common theme in migration narratives. In the context of post-war Japan, the technological advancement and material affluence has made international mobility open to anyone who has financial freedom and desires to explore new possibilities in life abroad. For these people, motives for migration do not lie in the search for economic benefits but in the desire for freedom and self-fulfilment. Migration processes typically work in conjunction with the imaginings of a life freed from the constraints of social relationships. Migration is then understood as an expedient means to negotiate their personal desires and design their life courses without being restricted by the middle-class ideals of a Japanese life course. In this body of scholarship, the definition of good life is ultimately intertwined with the ability to exercise individual autonomy.

This ethnographic paper examines the interplay between migration practices and the search for a better lifestyle amongst Japanese people who travelled to Dublin. My informants in their twenties and thirties left their local lives behind and yearned to carve out a unique life in a new social context. What they thought of as a better lifestyle was informed by the ways in which they set out to move abroad. Drawing on the migration experiences of those who temporarily relocated to Dublin, I explore how the imaginings of a better lifestyle intersects with mobility, and ultimately reveal the implications of their ideas of 'good life.'

Panel P161
Complexities of mobility: beyond the binaries of lifestyle v. economic migration