In the course of the 20th century, processes such as population growth, industrialization and centralization have led to rapid urban growth and enormous population density in Japan. Since the 1990s, these growth processes have slowed down and even show signs of stagnation. Economic transformations such as the deindustrialization of rural regions and the transfer of production to neighboring Asian countries in response to the pressure of globalization as well as demographic shifts such as population decline and the aging of the population have led to complex socio-spatial differences. Against this backdrop, Japan today offers cutting-edge examples of widespread and rapidly increasing interest in social and economic deceleration and downshifting.
The presentation outlines a research project, which attempts to examine phenomena of deceleration and downshifting in contemporary Japanese culture and literature, and to analyze their multilayered meanings and implications.
Evelyn Schulz is Professor of Japanese Studies at Ludwig Maximilians University in Munich, Germany and currently a visiting scholar at the DIJ. She has published on the novelist Nagai Kafû, Tokyo/Edo discourses, images of the urban in Japanese literature and culture and their respective timescapes. Currently, she is doing research on cultural expressions of deceleration and downshifting in contemporary Japan, thus questioning the salient image of Japan as a high-speed society.