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, Iojima and Kuroshima that form Mishima Village and give it its name (Mishima means “three islands” in Japanese).
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.
However, 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.
For starters, the town will pay up to ¥100,000 (about US$815) of your moving expenses. New arrivals can also claim a monthly stipend for their first three years of residence, with singles collecting ¥85,000 (about $700) a month and married couples a cool ¥100,000, plus ¥20,000 (about $160) 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 a month (about $120–$190). There are also grants to help pay for childbirth and children’s education, plus a support system for starting an agricultural business.
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.
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 (a little over $4,000) if the quick money is more enticing then the succulent beef.
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, you could find yourself living with a cow and having a hefty stipend to go on dates!
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