Rural areas have generally been associated with stagnation, depopulation and lack of perspectives. Yet Susanne Klien in her book, published by SUNY Press in 2020, aims to radically rethink the stereo-type image of countryside in Japan and beyond. Drawing on nine years of multi-sited ethnographic fieldwork across the country, she argues that the Lehman Shock in 2008, the Great East Japan Earthquake in 2011, the COVID-19 pandemic and increasingly harsh conditions of the job market have set the path for a new role of rural areas as experimental grounds for innovative projects.

In her talk, Klien will focus on three themes in her book. She will introduce selected narratives by urban newcomers to show the paradox between aspiration to a better work-life-balance and the reality of persistent overwork and (self-)exploitation. She will also present life in rural Japan through the lens of female settlers, specifically social entrepreneurs, and examine how they negotiate their daily lives between self-determination and structural constraints.

Last, she will analyze how migrants’ trajectories and practices indicate the quest for new modes of working. The talk cannot be more timely given the rapidly changing urban landscape of Japan as remote work has become a more widely accepted option.

Klien is Professor of Modern Japanese Studies at Research Faculty of Media and Communication at Hokkaido University. Originally from Vienna, Austria, she has recently conducted research about transnational lifestyle migration, demographic change, depopulation and rural resilience.

Doors open at 6:00 pm. Dinner is served from 6:15 pm. The presentation starts from 7:15 pm.

Menu: TBD/ Coffee or Tea with One Drink. Book Break charges are 3,000 yen/ 4,000 yen (members/ non-members) per person.

FCCJ members can sign up at the reception desk. Reservations cancelled less than 72 hours in advance will be charged in full. Non-members can reserve at the reception desk by email ( Payment is in advance till Wednesday, September 20th, 2023. No refund is available unless the event is cancelled by FCCJ.

Online attendance (via Zoom) is available at 550 yen per person. Please indicate the intention to attend online when signing up. Details on how to join online will be sent to individual emails after their reservations are confirmed.

Attendees with food restriction should inform the reception desk ( three days before the event.

Thank you.

(The talk will be in English)            

Library, Archives & Workroom Committee