ABSTRACT

This chapter explores how lifestyle migrants in Japan choose to migrate to rural depopulated communities and what the new lifestyle on the island is like. Life in small villages has become attractive for certain people in Japan’s cities since middle-class life course models have been increasingly becoming diversified and fluidized after the mid-1990s. The author analyzes lifestyle migration to Iwaishima, a remote island in Yamaguchi Prefecture, Japan. Migrants to this place have sympathized with the local residents’ activities to continue traditional ways of life based on agriculture and fishery, while engaging in protest movements against the construction of nuclear power plants near the island. Previous research on lifestyle migration has analyzed the migration and settlement process separately. This chapter, however, combines these perspectives and analyzes the following four points: 1) the way each of the migrants moved to a rural village, 2) how the migrants make a living in their destination, 3) how they sought to become recognized as members of the community, and 4) how they have continued to utilize the human relationships and social networks they cultivated before migration. By analyzing these four perspectives, this chapter clarifies the need for lifestyle migrants not only to be embedded in social relations of traditional rural communities but also to maintain and utilize the individualized and fluid network of activists outside the villages. This chapter suggests that liquid modernity characterized by the demise of traditional social structures does not necessarily challenge rural community and its lifestyle. Rather, it can be seen as a possibility to sustain the lifestyle of traditional communities.