Two largely rural prefectures gain ground against Japan’s biggest metropolis.

Japan is a great place to live, but not every prefecture is created equal, apparently. Japanese people have perceptions of the best prefectures to live in, and as it turns out, opinions vary greatly.

Last year, Tokyo was voted as the best prefecture to live in, but earlier this year, Fukui looked like a great place to live on paper, though citizens begged to differ. And just a few months ago, Hokkaido was voted as the best place to settle down in. Every survey shows different results…and with coronavirus still threatening the world’s populations, opinions might have changed again, because there’s a new ranking in town, and neither Tokyo nor Hokkaido nor Fukui are at the top of its list.

▼ I mean what’s not to love about the glittering lights and bustling crowds of Tokyo (except for the impending risk of infection)?

Brand Research Institute’s annual Regional Brand Survey asked 31,734 respondents from across the country to rate each prefecture based on their perceptions of it in 84 different categories, including appeal, recognition, and image.

Chiefly, the survey asked respondents whether they would like to live in each prefecture, with five levels of responses available: “I really want to live there,” “I’d like to live there”, “I wouldn’t mind living there”, “I don’t feel one way or another about living there”, and “I don’t really want to live there”. Each answer was worth a specific amount of points (100 for the first, then 50, then 25, and 0 for the last two). The weighted average of all the responses for each prefecture determined its position in the ranking.

Last year’s survey saw Tokyo voted as the top most desirable city to live in, with a score of 26.3 points, but this year, Kanagawa Prefecture, which borders Tokyo and is a popular residential area for Tokyo commuters, clawed its way back to the top after losing to Tokyo last year, bumping its neighbor back down to number two. Altogether 50.1 percent of respondents said they were interested in living in Kanagawa (either very interested, interested, or mildly interested according to the top three answers above), earning the prefecture 21.3 points

▼ Honestly, it’s no surprise, as Kanagawa is host to Yokohama, which was selected as the most desirable city to live in.

The race was close, as Tokyo earned just 0.8 points less than Kanagawa. Here’s the full top 10 list:

1. Kanagawa (21.3 points)
2. Tokyo (20.5 points)
3. Hokkaido (19.1 points)
4. Kyoto (18.7 points)
5. Okinawa (17.0 points)
6. Fukuoka (15.6 points)
7. Osaka (15.4 points)
8. Hyogo (13.3 points)
9. Chiba (12.7 points)
10. Shizuoka (12.2 points)

Prefectures with Japan’s biggest cities still seemed to dominate the list, but there was a lot of shuffling around this year. Only Hokkaido, Fukuoka, and Chiba held their positions from last year; the rest were bumped down by Okinawa. In fact, Okinawa jumped up three rankings this year, earning 2.1 more desirability points than last year. Overall the island prefecture appears have grown in appeal to younger people; nearly a third of respondents in their twenties and a fifth of respondents in their thirties selected “I really want to live there” or “I’d like to live there”.

▼ With views like this, who could blame them?

Shizuoka prefecture, one of the two prefectures that claims Mt. Fuji, made its debut in the top ten this year, bumping out Aichi, home to Japan’s fourth largest city, Nagoya. But why are smaller, more rural prefectures moving up in popularity when cities have always had the edge? Brand Research Institute believes it’s because of coronavirus.

Tokyo’s relatively high coronavirus infection rate compared to the rest of the country has likely had an influence on its appeal, as this year Tokyo’s desirability points actually dropped 5.8 points compared to last year. In fact, representatives at Brand Research Institute think that the pandemic as a whole has caused people to shift from desiring convenience to preferring nature, which might be why more rural prefectures like Okinawa and Shizuoka climbed higher on the list than last year.

▼ Coastal onsen resort area Atami is one desirable place in Shizuoka to live.

Okinawa and Shizuoka are, of course, also home to large cities, so it may be that people still want a little bit of convenience, but with a dash of remoteness as well. The city rankings also saw smaller cities like Kanazawa in Ishikawa Prefecture make huge leaps in preference, so perhaps people are just looking for something a little less crowded and a little more safe in light of the pandemic.

Interestingly, the advent of coronavirus has also led an international publication to select Tokyo as the best city not only in Japan but in the world to live in…so it seems that everybody has their own opinion! Where in Japan do you want to live?

Source: Daimond Online via Hachima Kiko
Top Image: Pakutaso (1, 2) (edited by SoraNews24)
Insert images: Pakutaso (1, 2, 3, 4)

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