Contemporary Japan is in a state of transition, caused by the forces of globalization that are derailing its ailing economy, stalemating the political establishment and generating alternative lifestyles and possibilities of the self. Amongst this nascent change, Japanese society is confronted with new challenges to answer the fundamental question of how to live a good life of meaning, purpose and value. This book, based on extensive fieldwork and original research, considers how specific groups of Japanese people view and strive for the pursuit of happiness. It examines the importance of relationships, family, identity, community and self-fulfilment, amongst other factors. The book demonstrates how the act of balancing social norms and agency is at the root of the growing diversity of experiencing happiness in Japan today.

chapter 1|21 pages


Happiness in Japan through the anthropological lens

part I|101 pages

Family, intimacy and friendship

chapter 2|18 pages

More than just nakayoshi

Marital intimacy as a key to personal happiness

chapter 3|12 pages

Physical intimacy and happiness in Japan

Sexless marriages and parent-child co-sleeping

chapter 4|14 pages

Happiness and unconventional life choices

Views of single women in Japan

chapter 6|20 pages

Grandfathering in contemporary Japan

Altruistic and self-serving means to happiness

part II|102 pages

Self and community

chapter 8|20 pages

Makers and doers

Using actor-network theory to explore happiness in Japan’s invisible civil society

chapter 9|18 pages

Dimensions of happiness for young political activists

A case study of “Greens Japan” members

chapter 10|19 pages

Living and working for the moment

Motivations, aspirations and experiences of disaster volunteers in Tōhoku

chapter 11|14 pages

“A really warm place”

Well-being, place, and the experiences of buraku youth

chapter 12|16 pages

“My life is Taiyō Kōmuten”

On the relationship between organized football fandom and happiness in Japan

part III|31 pages


chapter 14|17 pages

Happiness in neoliberal Japan

chapter 15|13 pages


Happiness as a balancing act between agency and social structure