Asian Ethnology 81 1&2 | article Living the Life of My Choice Lifestyle Migrants in Rural Japan Balancing between Local Commitment and Transnational Cosmopolitanism

Susanne Klien

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Lifestyle migration liminality (im)mobility subjective well-being multi-sited ethnography agency

The ongoing Covid-19 pandemic at the time of writing this article (November 2020), the 2008 Lehman Shock, and governmental revitalization policies introduced by the Abe government have resulted in a rise in urban lifestyle migrants who relocate to rural areas across Japan for noneconomic reasons. This ethnographic article focuses on individuals in Tokushima and Shimane Prefectures. Critically questioning conventional notions of work and lifestyle, these individuals struggle to implement their ideal lifestyles in their rural environments that are often characterized by deeply ingrained local societal norms and values. Drawing on longitudinal fieldwork since 2016, I will examine three cases of lifestyle migrants who have chosen to pursue radically different careers. While they make great efforts to blend into the community that they have relocated to, they also refer to transnational features in their pursuit of experimental lifestyles. This multi-sited ethnography aims to explore the “power of the between” by Paul Stoller (2009) and the “potential of the liminal” coined by Vincent Crapanzano (2004) as my interlocutors courageously carve out original careers that are catered to their own needs, but also engage with the local community.