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The city of Okayama was flattened by incendiary bombs in 1945. Many people died, more than 12,000 homes were destroyed and Okayama’s centuries-old wooden castle burned to its stone foundations. In 1966, the donjon was rebuilt with modern concrete, which was likely made in Mizushima — a smoke-spewing industrial site near Okayama that produced and refined the materials that helped pave over the physical scars of World War II.

Since then, a less tangible force began wiping out regional communities in Japan: depopulation and economic decline. The solution is equally intangible.

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