Picture in your mind your next trip to Japan. What do you see? Is it Tokyo, the buzzing metropolis with packed subway cars, expensive shops, fish markets, and stylish locals? Or maybe Kyoto, the elegant Imperial city with ancient architecture, temples, and its famous bamboo forest. How about Osaka, the crowded center of business and commerce, famous for Takoyaki, the ball-shaped Japanese snack food made of wheat flour-based batter and cooked in a cast-iron mold.
Most travelers think first of Japan’s renowned urban centers. And the popularity of these cities is not only a draw for tourists. Young, highly educated Japanese have for years flocked to the cities in search of better jobs.
The result has been a population vacuum in Japan’s rural countryside. Small villages and towns dot the landscape full of traditional architecture and a wealth of agricultural and craft knowledge in its older generations. But few remain to plant the fields and learn skills handed down through countless generations.