1st Edition

Happiness and the Good Life in Japan

Edited By Wolfram Manzenreiter, Barbara Holthus Copyright 2017
    278 Pages 4 B/W Illustrations
    by Routledge

    278 Pages 4 B/W Illustrations
    by Routledge

    Contemporary Japan is in a state of transition, caused by the forces of globalization that are derailing its ailing economy, stalemating the political establishment and generating alternative lifestyles and possibilities of the self. Amongst this nascent change, Japanese society is confronted with new challenges to answer the fundamental question of how to live a good life of meaning, purpose and value. This book, based on extensive fieldwork and original research, considers how specific groups of Japanese people view and strive for the pursuit of happiness. It examines the importance of relationships, family, identity, community and self-fulfilment, amongst other factors. The book demonstrates how the act of balancing social norms and agency is at the root of the growing diversity of experiencing happiness in Japan today.

    Part I: Introduction

    1. Happiness in Japan through the anthropological lens, Wolfram Manzenreiter and Barbara Holthus

    Part II: Family, Intimacy and Friendship

    2. More than just nakayoshi: Marital intimacy as a key to personal happiness, Dalit Bloch

    3. Intimate relationships: Friendships, marriage and gender in Japan, Laura Dales

    4. Happiness and unconventional life choices: Views of single women in Japan, Lynne Nakano

    5. Physical intimacy and happiness in Japanese families: Sexless marriages and parent-child co-sleeping, Yoshie Moriki

    6. Japanese gays, the closet and the culture-dependent concept of happiness, Erick Laurent

    7. Grandfathering in contemporary Japan: Altruistic and self-serving means to happiness, Hiroko Umegaki-Costantini

    Part III: Self and Community

    8. Makers and doers: Using actor-network theory to explore happiness in Japan’s invisible civil society, Patricia G. Steinhoff

    9. Dimensions of happiness for young political activists: A case study of "Greens Japan" members, Phoebe Holdgrün

    10. Living and working for the moment: Motivations, aspirations and experiences of disaster volunteers in Tōhoku, Susanne Klien

    11. "A really warm place": Well-being, place, and the experiences of buraku youth, Christopher Bondy

    12. “My life is Taiyō Kōmuten”: On the relationship between organized football fandom and happiness in Japan, Martin Lieser

    13. The midnight community, or under-the-counter happiness, Carmen Tamas and Adrian Tamas

    Part IV: Conclusions

    14. Happiness in neoliberal Japan, Gordon Mathews

    15. Happiness as balancing act between agency and social structure, Barbara Holthus and Wolfram Manzenreiter


    Wolfram Manzenreiter is Professor of Japanese Studies, Department of East Asian Studies at the University of Vienna, Austria.

    Barbara Holthus is Assistant Professor in the Department of East Asian Studies, Japanese Studies section, at the University of Vienna, Austria.