The National Museum of Ethnology (Minpaku) is a research center for ethnology and cultural anthropology.

Anthropological Perspectives on Well-being and Life Design

Joint Research Coordinator SUZUKI Nanami

Reserch Theme List


well-being, life design, welfare


In contemporary Japan there is a great deal of interest concerning issues such as the birth of fewer children and the aging population, growing disparities, the question of who will support the next generation and burgeoning multiculturalism. This research proposes to look at concerns arising from the lower birthrate/aging population and growing multiculturalism, opportunities arising from the needs experienced at the local level from various conflicts and discord to search the design of spaces where voices of multi-cultural or multi-generational alienation can be heard, as well as sustainable utilization of such spaces. This is frameworks for new experiments in taking information from the field and distilling its power, or disseminating information which can be applied in different situations.

Regarding the creation of these spaces for flexible, sustainable utilization, this research will pursue basic and applied research in tandem, in an attempt to developmentally reconstruct the concept of well-being (fukushi). In addition, we will consider interdisciplinary research in cultural anthropology and related disciplines concerning spaciotemporal design and implementation of joint research with individuals who have had experience in the actual field including those of the joint researchers. We thus hope to strengthen our understanding of how this amassed knowledge will be utilized in contemporary society.

Research Results

  1. Publications
    1. Suzuki Nanami, Fujiwara Kuniko, and Iwasa Mitsuhiro, 2010, Koreisha no wuerubiingu to raifu dezain no kyodo (Cooperation in wellbeing and life design for the elderly). A compilation of papers by members of a joint research project exploring possible forms of cooperation aimed at providing times and spaces to improve elderly wellbeing. The intended readership includes researchers, students, and the general
    2. Suzuki Nanami, ed., 2012, Shogai no nai shakai ni mukete wuerubeiingu he no toi to noomaraizeshon jissen (Toward a disability-free society: Questions about wellbeing and practical steps toward normalization) (SER No. 102) National Museum of Ethnology. Based on research that brought together researchers and practitioners to develop the concrete measures, new relationships and spheres of activity required for social welfare based on the “disability-free society” concept, i.e., a society in which everyone can enjoy life and live comfortably.
    3. Suzuki Nanami, ed., The Anabaptist Idea and the Way of Practicing Care: Reconsidering the Meaning of Life in the 21st Century (SES No. 79), National Museum of Ethnology, 2012. This work draws attention to a group whose members set themselves apart from secular society and dedicated themselves to non-violence, focusing on the history by which actions aimed at inclusion in ordinary US society led to the development of ways to provide care in the modern world (techniques of mutual support and conflict resolution required for communal living). It illuminates how, holding firmly to a belief in the depth and profound meaning of every human life, they developed the shared thinking and practical steps required for communal living.
  2. Panel presentations at international academic meetings.
    During the last fiscal year, team members presented their research in several forums. The following is a list of international meetings.
    1. The Society for East Asian Anthropology (SEAA), Annual Meeting Material Asia: Objects, Technologies and Rethinking Success, session 10, "Recontexualization of Technologies and Materials: Pursuing Wellbeing in Changing Aging Societies in Japan and Korea" (Chonbuk University, Jeonju , Korea, August 2, 2011). Presenters included Nanami Suzuki, Yoko Taniguchi, Hong Hyunsoo, and Kuniko Fujiwara.
    2. The 100th annual meeting of the American Anthropological Association (AAA), session 3-0390: "Navigating the stages of Life" (Montreal, November 11, 2011). Presenter: Nanami Suzuki.
    3. Workshop, "Rethinking the Meaning of Culture in a Multicultural Aging Society" at the 2012 Annual Conference of the American Society on Aging (ASA)(Marriott Wardman Park, Washington, DC, USA, March 31, 2012)Presenters: Nanami Suzuki, Itsuko Kanamoto
  3. Public Symposia
    During the last fiscal year, team members participated in the following public symposia
    1. Public Symposium: The Anthropology of Welfare and Development: Inclusion and Life Course (Minpaku, January 21, 2012) Organizer: Naomi Yamamoto.
    2. Public Symposium: New Perspectives on the Anthropology of Care and Education (Minpaku, January 28, 2012). Presenters: Nanami Suzuki, Chikako Yamada, Hironobu Shirozu, Akihiro Sukegawa, Shin-ichiro Ishida
    3. International Symposium: Living in a Community of Resilience: A Comparative Study on the Search for Well-being in Multicultural Aging Societies (Minpaku, February 25-26, 2012)
      Presenters: Nanami Suzuki, Itsuko Kanamoto, Hong Hyunsoo, Mariko Sano (Fujita), Yoko Taniguchi