The top 10 rural regions of Japan that Tokyo residents would like to move to

By RocketNews24

There’s a widespread belief in Japan that if you want to achieve educational or economic success, you come to Tokyo. As a matter of fact, it’s such a common move that Japanese even has a verb for it, "jokyo," or to “move on up to the capital.”

But for some people, always-lively Tokyo is just too bustling. It’s not just the elderly who feel the appeal of a rustic lifestyle, either. Even some residents in their 20s find themselves wanting to move away from the constant hum of the big city, and a recent survey reveals the top 10 rural regions of Japan that Tokyoites would like to move to.

In Tokyo’s Chiyoda Ward, you’ll find the Furusato Kaiki Support Center, an NPO that acts as a liaison between residents looking to leave the capital and some 800 regional organizations that would be happy to welcome them. 2014 marked the third straight year of increases in the number of people the center offered seminars and consultation to, as staff spoke with more than 12,000 individuals about the possibility of moving to one of Japan’s less crowded towns.

While many Japanese who grew up in the countryside find themselves wanting to move back to their hometowns in old age, 2014 was also the fourth year in a row the center saw an increase in the number of 20-somethings it dealt with, as they accounted for 10.8% of consultations. Altogether, prospective movers in their 20s, 30s, and 40s comprised 54.7% of those the Furusato Kaiki Support Center provided guidance to.

So just where are they thinking of going? Let’s take a look at the top 10.

10. Kagawa Prefecture

Japan’s smallest prefecture by landmass, Kagawa has the culture of Konpira-san shrine, Japan’s most delicious udon, and the convenience of quiet yet cosmopolitan (by Shikoku standards) Takamatsu City.

9. Toyama Prefecture

Toyama’s location along the Sea of Japan makes it quieter than prefectures on the southern coast of Japan’s main island of Honshu. And while it may not have the bright lights of Tokyo, it does have the awe-inspiring Kurobe Dam and snowy Tateyama Kurobe Alpine Route, as well as excellent buri (yellowtail) sashimi in the winter,

8. Shimane Prefecture

Maybe it’s time for Shimane to lose the chip on its shoulder about being “Japan’s least popular prefecture,” especially when it has one of the country’s most sacred shrines in Izumo Taisha.

7. Shizuoka Prefecture

We’re guessing Shizuoka got a bit of a boost due to it being a popular weekend travel destination for Tokyo residents. After hopping on the shinkansen for the hot springs of Atami or taking the regular trains down to historic, coastal Shimoda, some people probably start to question whether they really want to make the trip back up to the capital.

6. Kumamoto Prefecture

With its reputation as having one of Japan’s best castles and some of its most beautiful women, it seems more than a few Tokyo salarymen are ready to hand in their resignations and start over in this prefecture on the west coast of the southern island of Kyushu.

5. Niigata Prefecture

Living in Niigata gives you access to not only Japan’s most beloved strain of rice, but also some of its most renowned sake, plus the scenic landscapes of the Myoko Kogen highlands and Sadogashima Island.

4. Fukushima Prefecture

The Furusato Kaiki Support Center says Fukushima’s strong showing isn’t just a result of families displaced by the 2011 earthquake looking to move back, but also Tokyoites considering moving for the first time to the prefecture that’s also home to the Aizu Matsudaira Gardens.

3. Okayama Prefecture

Along with the picturesque canals of the town of Kurashiki and Korakuen Garden, residents of Okayama can enjoy delicious peaches (not to mention the cultural cachet of living in the literary home of the Peach Boy.

2. Nagano Prefecture

Nagano may have reaped some of the same sort of benefits as Shizuoka did. Tokyoites often travel to the prefecture in winter to ski the Japan Alps, and also in autumn to see the fall colors of the foliage in the Kamikochi nature preserve. Being known for delicious soba and sake probably didn’t hurt Nagano, either.

1. Yamanashi Prefecture

Finally, taking the top spot was Yamanashi, which no doubt owes some of its victory to the numerous seminars the Furusato Kaiki Support Center held for the prefecture over the last year, along with regional employment counselors proactively helping those interested in moving to Yamanashi find work.

There’s also the fact that even with its quiet atmosphere, Yamanashi is less than two and a half hours from Tokyo by train. Plus, there’s something to be said for being one of the two prefectures that Mt. Fuji’s base straddles. After all, even if you don’t live in the nation’s capital anymore, it’s nice to have such an impressive visual reminder that you still live in Japan.

Source: Furosato Kaiki Support Center

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Atamai Atami

I do think it would be great if more people/businesses moved away from Tokyo. The country side is nice, and we have the technology nowadays to make if possible.

1 ( +2 / -1 )

Yamanashi is pretty, but I wouldn't like to live there as it's just too rural; even Kofu is fairly tedious. The company I used to work for wanted us to move to Yamanashi. I lived there for a short time before I found another job. The small town/village had nothing of interest whatsoever and mainly consisted of old wooden shops selling buckets and shovels. However, it did have a nice view of Fuji and there was even some cows in a field.

0 ( +2 / -2 )

The grass is always greener...

0 ( +1 / -1 )

Top Ten Rural areas... in other words 1/5 of Japan. I have visited every single prefecture in Japan, many of them at least twice. From my travels basically 4/5th of Japan is amazing rural places that anyone could find a nice beautiful peaceful place to settle down. Not to mention they are just listing massive prefecture. Take a place like Kyoto-fu. The top half is massive beautiful inaka, the bottom half is what people think of Kyoto. Ishikawa has Kanazawa. A huge bustling city and the biggest tourist spot in the Hokuriku area. It also has the rural and amazing Noto Pennsylvania. Hokkaido is the single largest rural prefecture in all of Japan yet is home to Japans 3rd largest city.

3 ( +5 / -2 )

Can I hear it for Gunma Prefecture? Guys? ANYONE??

3 ( +5 / -2 )

Peter, what's there in Gunma Prefecture besides two well-known onsen resorts and low cost of living?

-3 ( +1 / -4 )

Yep, I love Gunma ! And agree every single prefecture has its rural spots, but real innaka can be too boring as well. So why not Kanagawa? Or this is considered Kanto so its hiding places are off the map ;-)

-1 ( +0 / -1 )

Yeah, Gunma! And bogva, Gunma is in Kanto too.

0 ( +0 / -0 )

Yamanashi is pretty, but I wouldn't like to live there as it's just too rural

Well i do live in Yamanashi and i think it's too busy and built up! Just proves that it's all down to personal opinion, no right or wrong answer here....which leads me to question what is really the point of the article....

2 ( +2 / -0 )

Oh dear. A few years ago one of my students told me that she had done a homestay in ... Oklahoma. I'm sorry to say that I burst out laughing (and she complained crossly, "why does everyone do that?).

And recently I met a young American man who proudly told me that the details of his homestay family were fixed ... in Gunma. I'm ashamed to say that I burst out laughing then, too.

Gunma, you don't do musicals by any chance, do you? Because I'd visit for sure!

-7 ( +2 / -9 )

Why on earth would Oklahoma make anyone laugh? Or Gunma?

4 ( +6 / -2 )

@Cleo, if you don't have the maturity of experience with life --AKA Tessa-- then some will find it 'funny' that you could possibly be happy away from the 'Big Bad Smoke', but when you've worn the T-shirt, got the underwear and have the notches of life's main highways carved deep into your character... Then nowhere is 'daisy' and no ones 'uncool' because our tents are wide and tall.

1 ( +3 / -2 )

Okinawa Prefecture.

1 ( +3 / -2 )

Of the 10 listed places above, I'd choose Takamatsu City in Kagawa Prefecture and Kumamoto City in Kumamoto Prefecture. However, English-speaking Japanese I met in Takamatsu said it's "boring" and although I liked Kumamoto, I don't think I'd want to live there permanently.

The othere places are too cold in the winter months.

I spent nine years in Okinawa and loved every minute of it. However, upon a recent visit there I discovered it just wasn't the same as when I resided there. So Okinawa would be out.

Guess, as I usually say, outside of Tokyo I'd like to try living in Matsuyama City in Shikoku or Kagoshima City in Kyushu. Both seem to be rather comfy ... but as in Takamatsu and Kumamoto, they'd probably become "boring" after a while. So I'll just continue my ride in exciting, bustling Tokyo where all the action is ...

2 ( +3 / -1 )

I hope the Japanese govt starts sending out departments to rural Japan. By that, I mean taking the govt workers, and having the bulk relocate to areas outside of Tokyo/Kanto/Osaka. As Japan needs to diversify geographically, in case of earthquakes. Having everything in Kanto is dangerous. I hope these programs work, but they need jobs in order for any significant amount of people to move away from Kanto. I know I want out of here as well. I just need to find a job that pays and has benes.

0 ( +0 / -0 )

I'm surprised Ishikawa didn't make the list, considering the many charms of Kanazawa and the enduring popularity of the Noto Peninsula and its fantastic seafood--not to mention all the attention the area's getting these days with the completion of another leg of the Hokuriku Shinkansen in March. Maybe it's seen purely as a tourist destination (which itself wouldn't necessarily make it a great place to live, though I'd move to Kanazawa in a heartbeat if I could).

1 ( +1 / -0 )

We have a house in Yamanashi and we love it! A lot of retirees from Tokyo are building in our area. Very beautiful area but at 1100m above sea level it does get damn cold in winter. Nearest onsen is only 5 minutes walk away!

3 ( +3 / -0 )

Stephen, I think there in lies the problem. Most areas outside of Kanto and Kansai have very few jobs. That needs to be rectified, before anything else happens. Also, to note Kanto's fertility rate is 1.0 or so, while Japan's in 1.43. If less people were in Kanto, we may have a more favorable birthrate.

3 ( +3 / -0 )

I would venture that the Japanese residents of Tokyo (I am assuming those surveyed were Japanese, as I can't see non-Japanese going to the Furusato Kaiki Support Center) responded on a hypothetical/theoretical basis rather than on a realistic basis. As in, this all sounds good, if I were to do this, these are the places that interest me.

This would be much more interesting if it were based on the people that actually made the move. That would then reflect things like availability of jobs, incentives, living conditions, etc., the things that would actually convince people to take a "fantasy" and turn it into reality.

Rural Japan (well, I would use the term "regional Japan", as in "chihou", as more accurate) has much to offer. It is not for everyone, but there are certainly attractive points for those select few where it is appealing. The challenge, of course, is the decreasing population and the rapid ageing of the remaining population in many of these places. This poses major challenges to these locales from an infrastructure and social services support perspective, regardless of actual job prospects.

1 ( +1 / -0 )

Its sad that this country is so small. Tokyoites have REALLY crappy choices. But when I first read the heading of this article, I instantly register Yamanashi-ken. And lo & behold, twas #1.

Fuji Go-ko (mt fuji's 5 famous lakes) are a blast to explore.

1 ( +1 / -0 )

This is an extremely interesting article. I understand Japan is a beautiful country whether one is in a large cosmopolitan city such as Tokyo or a small rural town in the middle of nowhere. After reading this article, I am wondering if anyone ever considered the small rural towns/cities way up north in Hokkaido or the Aomori Prefecture. Some of the cities I was wondering about are the following:

A. Wakkanai (the northernmost town in Japan) or any of the neighboring areas.

B. Monbetsu (another town in northern Hokkaido) or any of the neighboring areas.

C. Aomori City or any of the neigboring areas.

I would think any of the above areas especially Wakkanai or Monbetsu would offer tranquility if one has the desire to escape the hustle and bustle of a large cosmopolitan city such as Tokyo.

Additionally, what about Okinawa? Aside from Naha, I expect there must be quaint small towns. I understand Okinawa is one of the most unique prefectures and also very quaint. Also, I would suspect another advantage would be the year round climate and being near a beach.

Without having precise knowledge, I would think Northern Hokkaido (Wakkanai or Monbetsu), the Tohuku region (Aomori) or Okinawa would offer tranquility if one is looking for a break from a large city and offer personal safety as well. Thanks.

1 ( +1 / -0 )

Baroque ... been to Wakkanai, Monbetsu and Aomori City ... and enjoyed being in all three places. However, that was during the summer. The winters in these areas are just too brutal to withstand. Okinawa is much, much warmer ... thus I think you'd like that much better. However, the work situation is not all that great. You'd probably have a hard time finding a good job ...

1 ( +1 / -0 )

I think Kochi would be a good choice for those who like marine sports, especially surfing! There's good river rafting up in Tokushima near the border between the two prefectures and there's also good kayaking and canoeing in Kochi. For surfing, the ocean water is relatively warm and it's even warmer than down in Kyushu due to the warm Kuroshio Current directly hitting the prefecture.

BTW, I think this article is referring to where Tokyoites WISH they could move to if they could. So this is omitting the real situation of jobs and their availability. Just a "Where would you if you could..." question.

1 ( +1 / -0 )

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