Good Craft, Bad Craft: Music, Leisure and Labour in Japan

Monday, 11 July 2016: 10:15
Location: Dachgeschoss (Juridicum)
Oral Presentation
Mira MALICK, Waseda University, Japan
In Japan, crafting a finely tuned skill in a leisure activity through practice, repetition and continuous improvement has long been associated with positive qualities such as responsibility, diligence and creativity. Individuals who display excellence in such pursuits were thought to be able to apply these qualities to other endeavors and areas of life. How one leisured, in this sense, said much about how one approached life. Such people made desirable students, spouses and in several industries, workers.

The post-war ‘economic miracle’ saw the birth of a plethora of new markets and consumer items. This economic prosperity enabled many families to afford new leisure possibilities and to provide leisure opportunities for their children, such as sports, new as well as traditional forms of arts and crafts and of course, music lessons. This paper examines what happens when economic affluence and taking a craft seriously, the otherwise positive indicators for the accumulation and maintenance of cultural capital, combine to produce socially an ‘undesirable’ result: the rock musician.

Through the analysis of narratives of what it means to choose to prosume subculturally categorized (or relegated) genres of rock music as labour or as a form of serious leisure, I will attempt to highlight some of the contradictions and points of contention over the role of leisure in contemporary Japan.