The meaning of the experience of the everyday poverty of life for the oldest hansen’s disease survivors - Through the narratives of residents admitted around the second world war at a leprosarium in the Seto Inland sea

Takahiro Tanikawa, Hideko Miyawaki, Hitomi Shinjyo, Yoshiko Amano, Makiko Kondou

Research output: Contribution to journalArticle


Purpose: This study elucidates how the oldest residents of a sanatorium in the Seto Inland Sea region, who recovered from Hansen’s disease, understood the meaning of their experience of poverty on an everyday basis until around 1955. Method: In semi-structured interviews, narrative data were gathered from six residents. All of them were admitted to the leprosarium around the Second World War, the history of which began in 1909. The data were analyzed using a qualitative and inductive method. Results: The residents’ experiences of everyday poverty were summarized around six themes: (1) the sustention of everyday life through self-sufficiency; (2) the courage necessary to survive extreme hardships; (3) resourceful people coming together; (4) the assembly of self-sufficient organizations for self-defense; (5) the creation of a mutual aid system; and (6) agitating to induce the government to provide support for primordial solution of poverty. Discussion: The oldest residents understood the meaning of their coping with everyday poverty on an isolated island; they built a mature community comprising sub-systems for self-sufficiency, self-defense, and social security. This suggests they actively engaged in development tasks on the grounds of integrity, not despair. Furthermore, there were water shortages, and some people admitted to the leprosarium had previously experienced homelessness and had come to the leprosarium from the Shikoku Pilgrimage. These phenomena characterized the everyday poverty at this leprosarium in the Seto Inland Sea region.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)37-50
Number of pages14
JournalJapanese Journal of Leprosy
Issue number1
Publication statusPublished - 2015



  • Hansen’s disease
  • History of medicine
  • Narrative
  • Poverty
  • Qualitative study

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Medicine(all)
  • Dermatology
  • Infectious Diseases

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