“Give us back last place!” cry some Ibaraki residents.

The time has come again for the annual ranking of how each of Japan’s 47 prefectures fares in terms of appeal points and overall attraction. Last year, the list was topped by Hokkaido Prefecture and ended with Ibaraki Prefecture, results that wouldn’t surprise many Japanese residents.

▼ Hokkaido takes the gold yet again!

This year, Hokkaido took the top spot for the 14th year in a row. It was followed by Kyoto, Okinawa, Tokyo, and Osaka in the top five, respectively, unchanged from last year. The result’s biggest jumps occurred in the middle of the rankings, with some prefectures like Wakayama jumping from 32nd place to 26th place.

One surprise this year was that Ibaraki’s last spot was taken by Saga Prefecture. Ibaraki is usually at the bottom of the list–its eight-year streak was broken once in 2020, and then it took last place again in 2021–so residents were surprised.

▼ Imarin Beach in Saga Prefecture

If you’re not familiar, Saga is located on Japan’s southern Kyushu island, surrounded by Fukuoka, Nagasaki, and Kumamoto prefectures. Some notable landmarks and events in the prefecture are Karatsu Castle, the Karatsu Kunchi Festival, and the Saga International Balloon Fiesta.

▼ This seems pretty appealing to us!

Keep in mind, though, we determined last year that many don’t agree with the survey’s logic or point system. 35,000 survey participants were asked to rank each of the 47 prefectures on a 5-point scale: “very attractive,” “moderately attractive,” “neither attractive nor unattractive,” “not very attractive,” or “completely unattractive.” Choosing “very attractive” gave that prefecture 100 points, but “moderately attractive” bumped it down to 50 points, and anything below that gave it zero points.

Understandably, the reaction to the results from netizens was mixed.

“Give last place back to us in Ibaraki!”
“I really don’t understand this ranking.”
“I wonder if Saga will use this to their advantage and promote it.”
“Personally, I don’t think this means Saga has zero attraction, it just means that the prefecture isn’t very good at selling the appeal it does have compared to its surrounding prefectures.”
“Saga actually has great food, onsens, and more, but maybe it’s better the general public isn’t aware of that.”

The “zero attraction” comment in particular could make sense to many, as Saga has used questionable advertising methods in the past to attract visitors. In any case, it might be safe to say it’s better to take these survey results with a grain of salt–or you could go to Saga Prefecture yourself to find that supposedly hidden appeal!

Sources: Jiji.com via My Game News Flash
Top image: Pakutaso
Insert images: Pakutaso (1, 2), Saga International Balloon Fiesta
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