Crafting a new home: shared living and intimacy in contemporary Japan

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In recent decades, Japan has been undergoing an extensive societal change, centred mainly on family, employment, and patterns of social interaction. Later and fewer marriages lead to a growing amount of single households; the de-stabilization of employment produces new living conditions; the virtualization of communication generates new formats of interaction, often linked to the problem of alienation, especially among the younger generation. These processes have produced not only objective trends but also a subjective climate of instability, often framed by the discourse on Japan's precarity. A society that for decades has viewed itself as a homogeneous middle-class entity, Japan is still affluent but undergoing a long economic stagnation and, more importantly, increasingly experiencing itself as a fragmented society filled with social maladies. This article explores one outcome of these conditions–a new form of housing commonly referred to as the ‘share house.’ It first introduces the ‘share house’ phenomenon, then places it in the context of changes undergone by Japanese society. I suggest that the ‘share house’ represents a new institution addressing the growing need for alternative social alliances, particularly among young single adults seeking substitute modes of intimacy and belonging.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)509-532
Number of pages24
JournalJapan Forum
Issue number5
StatePublished - 2023

Bibliographical note

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  • family
  • home
  • intimacy
  • shared living
  • singlehood

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Cultural Studies
  • History
  • Sociology and Political Science


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