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Earlier this month, a realtor in Kumamoto Prefecture had us all day-dreaming about living the rural lifestyle by offering a house by the sea, absolutely free. But while the promise of complimentary shelter is tempting, another small town in the Japanese countryside is trying to attract new residents by offering another popular survival requirement: food.

So if you’re craving some tasty Japanese beef, you might want to pack your bags and move to this tiny island community in Kyushu that’s welcoming newcomers by giving them their very own cow, and also paying for singles’ dates.

To get in on this deal, you’ll have to go all the way to Kagoshima, on the southwest corner of the island of Kyushu. Even once you’re in the prefecture, you’ll have to keep pressing southwest, eventually coming to the remote islands of Takeshima, Ioujima, and Kuroshima that form Mishima Village and give it its name (Mishima means “three islands” in Japanese).

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The three islands are inhabited, but just barely, as the most recent count turned up just 412 residents split among the three landmasses. Like many towns in Japan’s hinterlands, Mishima’s population is rapidly both aging and shrinking, as the birth rate declines and young people leave the community for educational and economic opportunities elsewhere.

▼ Whether intentional or not, this picture from Mishima’s resident information page is extremely apt.

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But while their numbers aren’t as great as those who want to relocate from the countryside to the big city, there are some people in Japan considering making the move in the opposite direction. A number of organizations and initiatives have been founded to help those attracted to the slower-paced life outside of Japan’s major metropolises, and Mishima is offering a number of incentives for recently arrived residents.

▼ Mishima’s beautiful natural scenery

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Some of these are similar to those available in other communities. For starters, the town will pay up to 100,000 yen (US$840) of your moving expenses. New arrivals can also claim a monthly stipend for their first three years of residence, with singles collecting 85,000 yen a month and married couples a cool 100,000, plus 20,000 for their first child and 10,000 for each additional offspring.

Mishima is also prepared to heavily subsidize new arrivals’ housing, offering three-bedroom house rentals for the amazingly low price of just 15,000 to 23,000 yen a month. There are also grants to help pay for childbirth and children’s education, plus a support system for starting an agricultural business.

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Of course, all this talk of financial help in raising kids doesn’t hold much sway if you’re still single. Mishima also has something in store for eligible bachelors, though. As part of its Bride Searching Project, the city is willing to foot the bill for a portion of your dates, and has led to two marriages among its eight recipients so far.

Of course, maybe you’ve already got a romantic partner. But do you have a cow?

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New residents of Mishima also receive a kuroge wagyu calf, although they can waive this bovine benefit in exchange for a one-time sum of 500,000 yen if the quick money is more enticing then the succulent beef.

It’s a clever plan to reverse some of the town’s outward population flow, not least of all because giving someone a calf instead of a full-grown cow encourages them to stay put for a few years (veal isn’t particularly popular in Japan).

Mishima’s generosity isn’t completely unbridled, though. First, recipients of these benefits must be 55 or younger. Second, they won’t pay you to just come hang out, as you need to be planning to work in either the agricultural or fishery fields, or be otherwise self-employed. As long as you meet those requirements, though, this picture below could be of you.

▼ And you could be having steak for dinner!

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Related: Mishima Village official website
Sources: IT Media, Mishima Village
Top image: Mishima Village (edited by RocketNews24)
Insert images: Mishima Village (1, 2, 3) (edited by RocketNews24)