Nagano is the prefecture Japanese would most like to move to if they were to relocate to the countryside, according to a survey by a Tokyo-based migration support center.

Nagano edged last year's winner, Yamanashi, into second place in the survey of 4,359 people conducted by Furusato Kaiki Shien.

The popularity of Nagano and Yamanashi was partly attributed to their proximity to Tokyo, the center said.

Shimane Prefecture rose to third place from eighth in 2014, while Shizuoka ranked fourth and Okayama came in fifth. Shimane Prefecture's publicity efforts, holding events for those thinking of relocating to the prefecture, apparently paid off.

Furusato Kaiki Shien, a nonprofit organization, conducted 21,584 consultations on relocation in 2015, nearly double the number of a year earlier.

"More municipalities have strengthened efforts to address people's growing interest in migration," a center official said.

Of the respondents, 45 percent were those in the 20s and 30s. People in those age brackets seeking consultations at the center increased after the 2008 global financial crisis and 2011 earthquake and tsunami disaster, it said.