High-speed broadband. An award-winning brewpub built with recycled materials as part of a "zero waste" mission. An artist-in-residence program. Organic pizza from a wood-fired oven.

There is new life in the mountains of Tokushima Prefecture, in the neighboring towns of Kamiyama and Kamikatsu, even as depopulation afflicts most rural areas with rot. In Kamiyama, young people work remotely for tech companies or as artists in cooperative spaces. In Kamikatsu, the elderly test drones as part of their work harvesting leaves and flowers for use as garnishes in restaurants as far away as Europe.

Prime Minister Shinzo Abe has stressed the need to revitalize rural areas as the country struggles with demographic decline. The stakes are high. Depopulation may wipe out nearly half of its towns in the coming decades.