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Creative New Businesses Aim to Revitalize Rural Akita

Entrepreneurs came together at AKITA RISE to share plans for guesthouses, farming blue corn, and mother-run cooperatives aiming to revitalize rural communities.



AKITA RISE speakers (left to right) Nozomi Sugawara, Mami Onozuka, Rantaro Katayama, and Kodai Nakayama in Akita City on September 9, 2023 (Photo courtesy of Akita Prefecture).

Read the full story on Japan 2 Earth - Creative New Businesses Aim to Revitalize Rural Akita

The AKITA RISE training course for producers in Akita Prefecture's agricultural, mountain, and fishing villages was held in Akita City on March 9. The course is designed to enhance the capacity of citizens in the prefecture, which has the highest rate of population decline in Japan, to revitalize and solve problems faced in rural areas.

Four local entrepreneurs enrolled in the course presented their business plans. These included management of a guesthouse and the creation of new local specialty products.

Ideas To Revitalize

One of the presenters was Kodai Nakayama, 27, of Ventos, a two-person team from Tokyo that was posted to Nikaho City via the Local Vitalization Cooperator Program. Nakayama presented his concept of offering visitors rural life experiences centered on the operation of a guesthouse.

Preparations are underway to open the guesthouse, built in a renovated old Japanese-style house, at the end of April 2023. Ventos also plans to offer farming and fishing experiences. Nakayama hopes that guests will "adopt the area as their own hometown." He is developing a program for exchange between overnight guests and local people, such as encouraging guests to write letters to locals.

AKITA RISE beginner course in September 2022 in Akita City (Photo courtesy of Akita Prefecture).

Rantaro Katayama, 27, a University of Tokyo graduate student presented as the representative of Kazuno Tacos in Kazuno City. Katayama shared the concept of regional revitalization through farming blue corn.

Blue corn is an ancient variety of corn from the Americas. After eating regular yellow corn when visiting Kazuno for research, Katayama came up with the idea of making blue corn a specialty product in the city.

He described his business activities, including cultivation by local farmers and himself, commercialization of products such as chips, and restaurant management.

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(Read the article in Japanese.)

Author: The Sankei Shimbun

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