It is difficult to appreciate the scale of the demographic troubles facing Japan.

After all, the main urban centers of Tokyo and Osaka are increasingly crowded. Tourists have returned to the country in force, exceeding pre-COVID-19 levels, prompting in some cases, restrictions on the number of visitors to popular sites. They’re even venturing off the beaten path to less traveled sites. The country feels full.

Yet Japan faces increasingly straitened demographic circumstances, an evolution that manifests in sometimes surprising ways. One telling indicator is the growing amount of abandoned property, much of it — but not exclusively — in rural areas. This vacant, sometimes unclaimed, real estate is a danger to neighbors and a drag on local economies. It is, simultaneously, an opportunity for entrepreneurs and creative city administrators.