In post-war Japan, the housing system has driven the expansion of home ownership as a means to facilitate the formation of a middle-class society. Associated with vigorous economic growth, an expanding group of households on middle incomes emerged who were able to purchase their own housing. In addition, the massive infl ow of the population into urban areas and a rise in the number of households provoked a tremendous demand for housing, which accelerated housing construction and further supported economic growth. It was assumed that many people in middle-class society led a ‘standard life-course’ and formed nuclear families constituting a normalized form of the ‘standard household’. As the prices of land and housing rose rapidly, owning a house, which produced a considerable capital gain, was an advantageous means of accumulating assets, and an increasing number of households designed their life-courses with a view to eventually becoming a homeowner. The housing system has operated as an instrument not only to provide housing, but also to transform social and economic conditions. A clear orientation towards the production of a ‘social mainstream’ was thus evident in the post-war housing system, in which the increase in middleclass families promoted home ownership and the development of the owneroccupied housing sector in turn nurtured the middle classes (Hirayama, 2003a; Ronald, 2004).