Abstract – Lewerich

I-Turn Migration as a Means to Rural Revitalization? The Case of Ama

Ludgera LEWERICH (Heinrich Heine University Düsseldorf)

Over the decades many attempts have been made to revitalize Japan’s aging and shrinking rural regions. In recent years, urban-to-rural migration, coined I-turn (for people newly moving to the countryside) and U-turn (for people returning to their birthplace), has been portrayed by media and government as a possible solution to boost rural economy and demography. Ama, a small town on a remote island in Shimane Prefecture, has gained much attention as an apparently successful example of rural revitalization through I-turn migration. In my paper I will outline Ama’s revitalization project and, drawing on empirical data gathered there in 2016, examine the I-turners’ point of view on urban-to-rural migration. I will elaborate on what draws young people to a remote island and discuss whether revitalization through I-turn might be possible and sustainable. Thus, I will shed light both on the current state of rural revitalization and current lifestyle patterns of young people in Japan.