AKASHI, Hyogo — The municipal government of Akashi, Hyogo Prefecture, has launched a program to attract new residents to the city from Tokyo and its neighboring areas, giving people guided tours with free accommodations to show them the city and its charms.
If tour participants move to the city next fiscal year, which starts in April, they will be given a copper grill with good thermal conductivity for cooking Akashi-yaki, a specialty snack of the city that uses octopus, flour and egg, as “proof they are an Akashi local.”
A local volunteer group promoting the small ball-shaped snack will teach new residents how to cook it.
The city has been receiving inquiries, and hopes tour participants will choose to settle down in the city.
The program, titled “Akashi e GO!,” is one of the city’s measures to put the brakes on its declining population. The city, which is located along the scenic Seto Inland Sea, hopes people planning to move to the local region will choose Akashi as their new home.
The tour targets residents of Saitama, Chiba and Kanagawa prefectures as well as Tokyo, who can publicize the charms of the city through social media and other means after the tour. Families are welcome.
Participants can stay at hotels designated by the municipal government for free for up to two nights per person, but need to pay for transportation themselves.
On the half-day tour, a municipal government official will take participants by car to sightseeing spots such as the Akashi Municipal Planetarium, Okura beach and the Uonotana shopping arcade, childcare facilities and more. They can also hear about administrative services in the city. Tours will be organized based on each participant’s requests.
Local citizens are also invited to ask their acquaintances in the target region to participate and entertain them during their tour, such as dining together and accepting them as a guest at their home. As a reward, they will receive a shopping voucher worth ¥5,000 if they submit to the municipal government a photo as proof and a questionnaire filled out by tour participants.
The municipal government expects around 30 people in 10 groups will apply for the tour by the end of this March. As of Jan. 17, it had received 40 inquiries. It has already decided to give a tour to two of them.
“We’ve received many inquiries from people who want to introduce the tour to their acquaintances, who could be transferred to the Kansai region. We’ve succeeded in obtaining support from local citizens,” said an official of the municipal government’s department in charge.