The purpose of this study was to examine the expansion of ger areas in Ulaanbaatar, Mongolia, through interview surveys focusing on individual migration, intraurban migration, and the settlement of residents. After the transition from a socialist system, the number of rural migrants seeking opportunities for education and work in Ulaanbaatar increased. As a result, ger areas expanded as migrants sought new residences and began to settle. Ger areas are recognized as simply an urban problem that has yet to be resolved. However, in the author’s opinion, ger areas in Ulaanbaatar are, first and foremost, fields of everyday life created by residents’ praxis. Based on this understanding, this study elucidated the formation and expansion of ger areas through the processes of individuals seeking new residences and settling there.
The formation of ger areas is characterized by three elements: the ger, which has traditionally been used as a house for Mongolian nomads; initiation of land ownership; and kinship-based migration. There are two residential patterns immediately after migration. One is to reside on a lot demarcated by migrants’ self-enclosure of unowned land. The other is to secure temporary accommodation by placing one’s ger on a relative’s lot or co-residing in a relative’s house. This kinship-patronaged residence sometimes persists even after family formation, changing places of residence. However, the residential trajectories of ger area residents are typically terminated when they obtain their own lots. The author contends that the burgeoning of ger areas reflects residents’ subjective practices to seek their own residential spaces. In search of amenities, residents who have obtained their own lots endeavor to establish modest self-built homes, thereby enhancing allegiance to specific places. Ger areas are fluid because they expand during the process of each resident’s search to secure home ownership. At the same time, ger areas gain internal stability as residents establish homes. These features reveal that the macroscopic dynamics of ger areas are underpinned by the microscopic practices of the residents.
At the next stage, residents provide tenements for their kin or acquaintances. Most ger area residents enjoyed the similar patronage of relatives when securing temporary residences. Subsequently, these residences become points of departure for newcomers. Such a reciprocal habit is the foundation of the tremendous expansion of ger areas.
Expansion of ger areas is not only a process of spatial fixation of new residential structures but also a process of reflection upon the formation of home spaces through the residents’ own agency.
Geographic studies on sexuality have been conducted in human geography in English-speaking countries since the 1970s. However, Japanese geographers have paid little attention to this topic. This study aimed to clarify the image of Shinjuku Ni-chome and the process of the evolution of its image through the practices and experiences of gay men. Shinjuku Ni-chome is a former red-light district and the most famous gay district in Japan. Semi-structured interviews with 24 gay men living in the Tokyo metropolitan area revealed the following three main findings.
First, the development of relationships between gay men using online sites did not necessarily decrease their patronage of gay bars in Shinjuku Ni-chome. Second, the influx of heterosexuals in Shinjuku Ni-chome could be attributed to mass media reports, and gay men felt conflicted about whether to reject or accept heterosexuals in the neighborhood. Third, many gay men view Shinjuku Ni-chome as a special, safe place to exhibit their sexual orientation, but the recognition of its uniqueness varies based on the development of friendships with gay men and self-establishment as a neighborhood regular.
These findings suggest that gay identity continues to be tied to the physical environment of a place despite the strengthening of connections made through online sites, and that the recognition of place is dynamic.