Happiness and the Good Life in Japan: 1st Edition (Hardback) book cover

Happiness and the Good Life in Japan

1st Edition

Edited by Wolfram Manzenreiter, Barbara Holthus


262 pages | 4 B/W Illus.

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Paperback: 9780367177997
pub: 2019-01-03
Hardback: 9781138956612
pub: 2017-03-06
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pub: 2017-03-27
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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.

Table of Contents

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

About the Editors

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.

About the Series

Japan Anthropology Workshop Series

Editorial Board:
Pamela Asquith, University of Alberta
Eyal Ben Ari, Kinneret Academic College, Sea of Galilee, Israel

Hirochika Nakamaki, Suita City Museum, Japan
Christoph Brumann, Max Planck Institute for Social Anthropology, Halle, Germany

Henry Johnson, University of Otago, New Zealand

Founder Member of the Editorial Board:
Jan van Bremen, University of Leiden

Routledge is very proud to be publishing this important series, which has already signed up a good list of high quality books on interesting topics, and has a truly international range of authors and editors.

A key aim of the series is to present studies that offer a deep understanding of aspects of Japanese society and culture to offset the impression of constant change and frivolity that so tempts the mass media around the world.  Living in Japan brings anyone into contact with the fervent mood of change, and former residents from many other countries enjoy reading about their temporary home, but there is a demand also to penetrate less obvious elements of this temporary life.  Anthropologists specialise in digging beneath the surface, in peeling off and examining layers of cultural wrapping, and in gaining an understanding of language and communication that goes beyond formal presentation and informal frolicking.  This series will help to open the eyes of readers around the world from many backgrounds to the work of these diligent anthropologists researching the social life of Japan.

Submissions from prospective authors are welcomed, and enquiries should be sent in the first instance to the series editor Professor Joy Hendry (jhendry@brookes.ac.uk).

Learn more…

Subject Categories

BISAC Subject Codes/Headings:
SOCIAL SCIENCE / Anthropology / General
SOCIAL SCIENCE / Ethnic Studies / General