Young Generations in Japan and Europe: Crisis, Mobility and Creativity

Friday 4 November, 2016
9:00am GMT - 5:00pm GMT

Dragon Hall, 115-123 King Street, Norwich, NR1 1QE

About the Workshop

This one-day workshop conference will explore the sociology of Japanese youth, and more specifically about the generational differences and social change among Japanese youth in post-Bubble Japan.

On the occasion of distinguished Japanese sociologist Masahiro Yamada’s visit to the Sainsbury Institute in November 2016, we are holding a one-day workshop conference on the sociology of Japanese youth, picking up from some of his latest work on the subject, about generational differences and social change among Japanese youth in post-Bubble Japan.

The sociological and journalistic lexicon associated with these changes has become famous, in some cases internationally. To quote the opening line of Mary Brinton’s Lost in Transition: Youth, Work and Instability in Post-Industrial Japan (2011, p.1):

Kakusa. NEET. Furītā. Parasaito shingeru. Hikikomori. Wākingu puā. Net-café refugees. Shōshika. Japanese newspapers, magazines, and books are filled with terms such as these, emblematic of a society undergoing transformation and grappling with new and bewildering social problems.’ (Brinton, 2011)

Much of the sociological emphasis has been on pathologies and deviations from the established norms of post-war Japanese society. However, there is much to suggest that successive young generations since 2000 are not to be viewed in such a desperate light. Indeed, if we are to believe the Todai sociologist, Noritoshi Furuichi, in his Zetsubō no Kuni no Kōfuku na Wakamono-tachi (The Happy Youth of a Desperate Country, 2011), more recently born youth in Japan are facing their own gloomy economic futures with a greater degree of happiness, optimism and social engagement.

Our workshop will explore various dimensions of this question, looking at ways in which younger generations are responding to Japan’s social, economic and demographic crisis. The morning session addresses recent sociological debate on Japanese youth in comparative perspective with Europe and the UK, beginning with the question of marriage. We feature a keynote lecture by Prof. Yamada analysing trends in social relationships. The morning also features a special session showcasing the forthcoming publication – in partnership with the Writers’ Centre Norwich, University of East Anglia and Norwich University of the Arts – of Keshiki, a series of chapbooks by Japanese writers.

In the afternoon, we will move into discussions about how young people from Japan have found alternative channels for positive solutions to their situation. This will include the question of either urban to rural, or international mobility linked to the creative arts and non-conventional lifestyle activities and economic practices, and the emergence of a transnational Japanese arts diaspora. On these topics, we are pleased to welcome two sociologists, Susanne Klien and Yasemin Soysal, as well as a special panel of young Japanese “creators” based in England, who will discuss their personal experience and views of the subject.


9.00 Arrivals

9.30 Introductions

9.45-11.00 Morning session: Marriage and the Social Crisis of Young People in Japan

*Keynote Lecture*
Masahiro Yamada (Professor of Sociology, Chuo University)
The Marriage Crisis and the Development of Virtual Relationships in Japan

Chaired by Adrian Favell, Professor of Sociology, University of Leeds
and Sainsbury Institute
Discussion led by Kristin Surak, Senior Lecturer, SOAS

11.00-11:45 Introduction to Keshiki

Keshiki is a series of chapbooks by Japanese writers, published by Strangers Press in partnership with Writers’ Centre Norwich, University of East Anglia and Norwich University of the Arts

Kate Griffin, Associate Programme Director, Writers’ Centre Norwich
Nathan Hamilton, UEA publishing project / Strangers’ Press
Dr Philip Langeskov, Lecturer in Creative Writing/UEA Publishing Project
Glen Robinson, Subject Leader, BA (Hons) Design for Publishing, Norwich University of the Arts
Nigel Aono-Billson, Subject Leader, BA (Hons) Graphic Communication, Norwich University of the Arts

11.45-12.15pm Tour of Dragon Hall

12.15-1.00 Lunch

1.00-2.30 Afternoon session: Mobility, Diaspora and Alternative Economies of Young Japanese: The Arts and Creativity as a Solution

Susanne Klien, Associate Professor, Modern Japanese Studies Program, Hokkaido University
Of Professional Unemployed, Global Citizens and Broken Bodies: Narratives and Experiences of Mobile Japanese Youth

Yasemin Soysal, Professor of Sociology, University Essex
Youth and Transnational Trajectories in East Asia

Discussion led by Adrian Favell, Professor of Sociology, University of Leeds & Sainsbury Institute

2.30-3.00 Coffee

3.00-5.00 Special panel discussion: Young, Japanese and Mobile. Experiences and Personal Views

Masakatsu Kondō, artist and director, The Allotment, London
Alyssa Ueno, architectural designer, Royal College of Art, London
Yoi Kawakubo, artist, Pola Art Foundation Fellow, London
Shino Yanai, artist, Royal College of Art, London

Moderated by Eiko Honda, curator and researcher, University of Oxford

5.00pm Close


The workship is free to attend and is open to students, artists, academics and researchers interested in the field.

To book your place, please contact the Sainsbury Institute with your name, affiliation and profession or status (for students).

Organized by the Sainsbury Institute and Professor Adrian Favell
The workshop is jointly funded by the Sainsbury Institute and Chuo University

with support from the Writers’ Centre Norwich

Image: Shibuhouse, collective art share house, Tokyo

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