Typically associated with crowded megacities, Japan is now trying to attract young people to shrinking rural towns. How? By brewing craft beer in the middle of nowhere.
It’s not just craft beer that has attracted young urbanites to Kamiyama. However, the Kamiyama Beer Project is symbolic for chiho sosei (creating life in the countryside), a set of government measures to attract a younger population to Japan’s rapidly shrinking rural population. Kamiyama’s population has decreased from 21,000 in 1955 to around 6,000 today. But, a slow increase is on its way as the town recently introduced high-speed broadband Internet, satellite office spaces for city-based companies, an artist in residence program, a local farming project, and a craft beer brewery.
In the fight against population decline, Kamiyama, and several other rural towns, have started to reinvent themselves as creative hubs. It’s not a coincidence that Japan is trying to turn rural towns into cool towns in this era of urbanization. We live in a time when urbanites are starting to critically evaluate their urban lifestyle and the work pressure, noise, social obligations, and speed of life that comes with it.
A growing number of city dwellers worldwide are therefore leaving cities for towns and villages where they can live a healthy lifestyle. Nevertheless, they look for places where they continue their lives without giving up the positive aspects of their urban lifestyle. Kamiyama has become the ideal place for Japanese urbanites to seek refuge as it provided what stressed-out urbanites are after. While other towns are continuing to shrink, Kamiyama has managed to reinvent itself as an anti-urban sanctuary.