This presentation examines the emerging post-growth discourse in Japan based on the interconnections between the changing trend in lifestyle migration and the new rurality discourse. In comparison to the observations in the existing literature on lifestyle migration that focus on the agency of an individual’s autonomous decision-making, the recent urban-to-rural lifestyle migration in Japan shows the growing institutional attempts to mobilize its population to tackle Japan’s long-term economic stagnation. The state and local governments are implementing various policies to stimulate population flow from central to peripheral regions and revitalize the local economy, where the former provides the nationwide platform for urban-rural migration and the latter creates regionally specific incentives or support programs. Based on an ethnographic observation of the regional revitalization policy of Tamba Sasayama, Hyōgo prefecture, I demonstrate how the post-growth form of the regional revitalization movement both ignites and dispirits the hopes for regional sustainability.
Shilla Lee is a social anthropologist whose work focuses on rural social changes in Japan and contemporary forms of traditional craft practices. She received her Ph.D. from Martin-Luther-Universität Halle-Wittenberg in 2022 and worked as a doctoral researcher at Max Planck Institute for Social Anthropology, Germany, from 2017 to 2022. She is currently a postdoctoral fellow at the Sainsbury Institute for the Study of Japanese Arts and Cultures in Norwich, UK, working on her first book publication that provides a critical overview of Japan's recent regional revitalisation policies and the implication of the rise of creativity rhetoric in rural regions. Based on her fieldwork in Tamba Sasayama (Hyōgo prefecture), Japan, in 2018-19, she investigates the regional revitalization policies led by the municipal government and the involvement of local creative agents, the local traditional craftspeople of Tamba pottery, in the promotion of a new regional image of the creative village.