Over the past two decades housing pathways have become increasingly differentiated between generations, particularly in advanced societies dominated by owner-occupied tenure systems. Demographic transformations caused by aging and falling fertility rates, along with a more volatile economy and a neo-liberal reorientation of governance have combined to restructure housing conditions. Drawing on empirical research in Japan, this paper illustrates the social origins and impact of generation-based differentiations in housing patterns in that country. It considers the housing experiences of three cohorts: baby-boomers, baby-busters and the ‘lost generation’. The contrast of housing pathways between these generations in Japan illustrates the contemporary dynamics of housing and social processes in homeowner societies.