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More young people moving back to live with grandparents

  • JAPAN NEWS-YOMIURI

    Taro Nakazawa moved to Hokuto, Yamanashi prefecture, last year to live with his grandparents Kenichi and Kesae Nakazawa.

TOKYO >> An increasing number of young people from cities are migrating to provincial areas to live in the same town as their grandparents.

The “mago-turn” trend — “mago” means grandchild in Japanese — is similar to the “U-turn” trend when people return from cities to live in their hometowns, and the “I-turn,” when people migrate to rural areas different from where they grew up.

For young people who want to be closer to nature but feel uneasy about living in an unfamiliar place, moving to areas where their grandparents live can be an attractive option because it will be easier for them to assimilate into the community.

Taro Nakazawa, 24, was born and raised in Chigasaki, Kanagawa prefecture, and moved to Hokuto, Yamanashi prefecture, in April. He works as a local community revitalization corps member promoting tourism in the city in the northwestern part of the Kofu basin.

Nakazawa’s parents hail from Hokuto, and he often visited his grandparents when he was growing up.

Although Nakazawa hoped to live in the area someday, he joined a construction firm in Kanagawa prefecture after graduating from university. But the death of his maternal grandfather in August prompted him to make the move sooner.

“I thought it would be better to move while my (paternal) grandparents are still healthy,” Nakazawa said.

His income is lower than what he earned in Kanagawa, but Nakazawa said, “I don’t have to ride a packed train. I work less overtime. I feel like my life has become richer.”

Nakazawa’s paternal grandfather, Kenichi Nakazawa, 89, lives with his grandson and said, “I’m enjoying (living with him) because he makes our home lively.” Nakazawa’s grandmother Kesae, 84, said her grandson “helps me with heavy work. I really appreciate it.”

Naoko Sakaguchi, 36, a coffee shop owner in Asahi, Toyama prefecture, moved from Tokyo’s Edogawa ward in 2007 to take care of her grandparents. Her coffee shop, Hygge, is housed in an old renovated residential building.

“At first I was worried about whether I could be comfortable living here. But people in the neighborhood were very kind — they welcomed me as the granddaughter of ‘Mr. and Mrs. Sakaguchi,’” she recalled.

With the support of her relatives living nearby and newfound friends, Sakaguchi opened a coffee shop in 2015, fulfilling a long-held dream.

During the period of high economic growth in Japan, young people moved to urban areas to seek jobs. In contrast, their children are doing the opposite.

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