This paper investigates aspects of the separation of parents and their adult children associated with public and private housing condominiums in Senri New Town, located about 10 km north of the city center of Osaka. Senri New Town is a joint public-private housing complex that was first built in the late 1960s. Surveys were conducted in twenty public rental condominium buildings which were about 45 years old, and also three private owner-occupied condominium buildings which were less than 10 years old.
In the public rental housing, many of the original tenants were still living in their condominium apartments and by now they had adult children with families of their own. But in some cases, condominium households were younger people who had parents living outside of Senri New Town, either in other parts of Osaka Prefecture or the larger Kinki Region of Japan. Consequently, the survey focused on whether the children were living far apart or close-by to their parents and also the type and strength of formal connections and informal visiting patterns. For instance, were there any differences between visiting patterns between the wife and her parents in contrast to the husband and his parents? What were the implications for aging parents that had only one child when they needed medical care? A similar questionnaire was conducted in the private sector owner-occupied condominium buildings.
The results indicated that adult children lived apart from their parents in both types of housing. In terms of visiting patterns, ‘visits from children to parents’ occurred more than ‘visits from parents to the children’. Shorter the distances between the two types of households were associated with more visits between parents and their children during the year.
In the case of parents living in public rental housing buildings, there were cases where their adult children also resided nearby in Senri New Town. But in some instances the children’s new homes were located further away outside of Osaka Prefecture, and in these cases parents often visited their adult children at the time of their grandchildren’s school athletic meetings. On the other hand, longer distances led to visits from the children back to their parents homes only ‘once a month’ or just ‘only in the summer and at New Year festivals.’
In the case of adult children living in Senri New Town and where their parents lived elsewhere in Osaka Prefecture, the frequency of visit contact between the wife and her parents was higher than those between the husband and his parents. But where the parents lived further away, outside of the Kinki Region, the frequency of visits between the husband and his parents was higher than between the wife and her parents.
In the case of links between parents and daughters, the purpose of visits was tied to ‘nursing parents’ by the daughter, and ‘grandchild nurturing support’ from the parents.
In summary, the need to maintain contact between parents and their aged children was strong, and in the future the supply of housing in Japan needs to take this into account, especially to reduce the costs of nursing aged parents.